February is American Heart Month, and as a leading community-based
organization dedicated to improving the community’s health, the YMCA
of San Diego County offers the following tips to help individuals and
families be heart healthy.
Get Physical: Being physically active every day is fun and
can 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
Take a Snooze: 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.
Shape Up Those 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.
Feeling the Pressure: Per the American Heart Association,
lowering or maintaining normal blood pressure can greatly reduce
your risk for heart disease and stroke. Nearly 1 in 3 adults (about
80 million people) have high blood pressure and more than half of
them don’t have it under control. Start self-monitoring your blood
pressure and know the numbers. Discuss the results with you doctor
Play Together: 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.
For more information on how your family can live a healthy, active
life, visit ymca.org.