February is Heart Month (fitting, right?), and now is the time to start thinking about taking care of yours. You’re not too young to think about your cardiovascular health, as research shows a decline in heart health begins between ages 9 and 19 for girls. The habits you begin now are the ones that will stick with you as you get older, so let’s look at five ways to keep your heart healthy.
Eat right. Avoid foods with trans fat, which clogs your arteries. My favorite foods that are filled with (healthy!) fat are avocados, cheese, and fish. Spruce up your breakfast by toasting a slice of bread, spreading smashed avocado on it, and topping it off with a dash of salt, pepper, paprika, and red pepper flakes (for a little spice!).
Get active. You already know I love running and HIIT training, which is great for me because those happen to be great for your heart. If you’re new to working out, try mixing it up to see what you like best. On Monday, get outside and go for a walk. On Wednesday, try one of the many free, short HIIT workouts available on YouTube (For example, Google “HIIT workout, no equipment.” On Friday, do the same but with yoga.
Practice self-care. High blood pressure and heart disease can be attributed to stress. Stress affects everyone differently. When I’m stressed, I get headaches and shoulder pain, my sleep gets interrupted, and I’m just a less happy version of myself. To mitigate stress, I try meditating, talking to someone, watching a funny show, or practicing another form of self-care.
Don’t smoke. First of all, you’ve got to be at least 18 years old to smoke in Canada (and if you’re a teenager in the USA, you shouldn’t be smoking at all). Another reason to steer clear: when you smoke, the blood that’s pumping throughout the rest of your body gets contaminated, which can ultimately damage your heart. And I hate to tell you, but vaping isn’t much better.
Treat yourself kindly. Okay, this doesn’t have anything to do with cardiovascular health, but it’s important. Treat yourself with care and love, especially if you’re dealing with a broken heart. You are so important. You matter. So treat yourself right. Sending you love from the whole team at EmpowHERto.