This post originally appeared on our customer Montana University System’s blog: Montana Moves & Montana Meals.
February is American Heart Month! We’ll be celebrating by focusing on your heart and heart health all month long here at Montana Moves & Montana Meals. After all, exercising, eating well, and managing your stress like a champ are some of the best ways to keep your ticker going strong for years to come!
Today, we’re going to stop and simply appreciate our hearts for the miraculous, wondrous machines that they are with some good ‘ole fun facts. After all, our hearts are constantly working for us, so the least we can do is show a little appreciation. Here goes:
- Your heart beats around 100,000 times every day. That adds up to over 2.5 billion times in an average lifespan.
- Weighing in at a whopping 11 ounces, this super organ pumps around 2000 gallons of blood through 60,000 miles of blood vessels every day.
- At rest, the heart pumps about 5 liters of blood every minute. During exercise, this cardiac output can triple, or even more than quadruple for fit athletes.
Let’s be good to our hearts this month (and every month). They certainly are good to us!
Now that we’ve taken a moment to appreciate our hearts (thanks, Montana University System!), it’s equally important to keep them healthy. To celebrate American Heart Month, we’ve got seven targeted challenges to keep your heart happy all month long.
7 challenges to celebrate American Heart Month
1. Be Tobacco-Free
Get started on a tobacco cessation program. Set yourself up for success with these three tips:
- Tell friends and family that you’re quitting
- Write down why you’re quitting – and keep the list somewhere you’ll see it every day
- Plan ahead for your triggers (like bars or long drives). If you can’t avoid these situations, plan for other ways to respond to cravings.
2. Sweat for 30
Exercise regularly to keep your heart healthy. Experts say we should get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise 5 days a week – so sweat on!
Fit Tip: Listening to music makes exercise feel easier and boosts your motivation.
3. Join a Weight Management Program
Get started on a path to better health by losing weight. These programs can offer support, advice on healthier eating and tips for sticking with an exercise regimen.
Did you know? It’s not about losing a ton of weight – a weight loss of just 5 to 7 percent of your body weight will give you health benefits.
4. A Heart-Healthy Plate
Adopt eating habits that help protect your heart. Conquer cravings by indulging in healthy snacks, and start every morning with breakfast to rev up your metabolism (and prevent over-eating later in the day!).
Build a heart-healthy plate: Incorporate fruits, veggies, whole grains and fish. Choose healthy fats like vegetable oils, nut butters and nuts.
5. Blood Pressure Management
Get a blood pressure reading to know if you are within healthy ranges.
Make a change: Start by managing stress, consuming less sodium and limiting alcohol.
6. Screen Your Cholesterol
Your cholesterol levels have a lot to do with how healthy your heart is. Cholesterol screening is different from most tests. It’s not used to diagnose or monitor a disease – it’s used to estimate risk of developing heart disease.
Food for thought: Cholesterol-lowering foods include oatmeal, almonds, salmon and olive oil.
7. Read the Label
Pay attention to Nutrition Facts labels when you’re grocery shopping and cooking – they’ll help you make quick, informed food choices, especially for your blood sugar levels.
Reduce blood sugar levels: Avoid processed foods and be wary of additional sugar – even if the product is labeled “organic” or “natural.” Sugar is sugar, whether it comes from high-fructose corn syrup or sugar cane.