With Valentine’s Day around the corner and hearts on the mind, there is no better time to think about the importance of heart health! Along with the resources on Benefits.gov, here are some important steps to keep your heart healthy.
Get regular exercise
Adding daily exercise to your routine is important for a healthy heart. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends at least 20 minutes of aerobic exercise every day. Running, biking or fast walking are good exercises for heart health. Exercise is not only good for your heart, but it also helps lower stress and anxiety which are factors in mental health.
Maintain your mental health
Mental health can impact many parts of life, including your physical health. Stress affects the heart almost as much as diet. According to the AHA, people with high stress levels are much more likely to have high blood pressure or a stroke. To reduce stress:
- Get 7-9 hours of sleep every night
- Laugh and smile as much as you can
- Cut back on alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine use
- Spend time with friends and family
Eat a healthy and balanced diet
Eating a healthy diet can provide many benefits including heart health. Follow these tips to improve your diet:
- Eat an overall healthy balance from all food groups
- Avoid saturated fats and sodium
- Choose fat-free or low-fat options, especially for dairy products
- Reduce alcohol consumption to no more than 2 drinks per day
- Include fish and poultry as more nutritious options for meat
Improving your diet does not require making major changes right away. Changing habits and food choices slowly can help you live healthier and maintain heart health. Small changes to your diet can be easier to stick with and will lead to better health.
Access Programs and Resources for your heart health
The AHA provides a number of resources for improving heart health. Educate yourself on the importance of heart health to keep your risk level low. The AHA can help you learn about the above topics, such as how stress affects the heart, ways to improve nutrition, and the best exercise options to help with heart health. In addition, read our articles: Benefits.gov Celebrates American Heart Month and Four Ways to Improve your Heart Health. Benefits.gov also provides information on helpful programs like Medicaid for access to healthcare. Online resources offer general education, but always talk to your doctor for specific advice.