February is American Heart Month, and with recently published research indicating blood pressure control has worsened in both men and woman since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to use this month to get a blood pressure screening and focus on becoming heart healthy. Below are tips for the whole family to become heart healthy this February.
- Get Moving: Being physically active every day is not only fun, it can also improve the function of your heart. Plan and schedule opportunities for active play; for example, include a brisk 10-minute trip around the block after meals or a 10-minute walking break during the day. If your family enjoys active video games, select versions that require moving the body’s large muscle groups while playing.
- Rest up: Lack of sleep can be associated with elevated cholesterol and blood pressure. Adults need at least seven, but no more than nine hours of sleep at night to aid with the prevention of heart disease. Children need 10-12 hours of sleep per night. Develop bedtime routines for the whole family to assist with falling asleep faster and staying asleep.
- Revamp your Recipes: Makeover your family’s favorite recipes by reducing the amount of salt and saturated fat and substituting a lower fat food without sacrificing tastes. For example, use low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream and skip the seasoning packet and use pepper and olive oil instead. Read food labels to learn more about what is in the package, select foods that have less than 1,000 mg of sodium per serving.
- Check your Pressure: Revised blood pressure guidelines from American Heart Association mean that nearly half of all Americans (46 percent) have high blood pressure. Lowering or maintaining normal blood pressure can greatly reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. Start self-monitoring your blood pressure and know the numbers. Discuss the results with you doctor if needed.
- Quality Time: Spending time together as a family is a great way to reduce stress, which is important to heart health. Make homemade valentines for your children’s classmates or build a snow fort together in the yard or the park.