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Forget the Valentine, Take Care of Your Heart

By Martha Michael

Take Care of Your Heart

If February brings to mind Valentine cards and affairs of the heart, you’re in good company. But the focus on your heart is more than skin deep. American Heart Month was established more than 50 years ago and it is aimed at motivating people to adopt healthy lifestyles to prevent heart disease.

You can dovetail your celebrating with a healthy date on Valentine’s Day, suggests an article by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The organization offers a list of easy changes in your routine across many lifestyle arenas that can make any month healthier.

Diet

Every day you face choices when you fill your plate with food. Nutrition is what fuels your body’s activity, but it also has the power to build the health of your organs, your muscles, and your internal systems. Certain foods add to your heart health and others diminish its ability to function. This month you can acknowledge those choices with a salt-free day and begin a habit of filling your dinner plate with vegetables instead of large pieces of meat and bread slathered with butter.

An article on Healthline.com discusses the impact your diet can have on your risk of heart disease. You need to avoid foods that increase blood pressure, raise cholesterol levels, and boost inflammation, while augmenting your meals with whole grains and green leafy vegetables.

Dietary choices that improve your heart health include:

  • Fatty fish
  • Beans
  • Dark chocolate
  • Avocadoes
  • Berries
  • Seeds
  • Edamame
  • Garlic
  • Walnuts

Exercise

Most of us know we need to keep our bodies moving, and the heart is among the chief beneficiaries of an active lifestyle. If your dedication to working out has fallen by the wayside, you can make incremental shifts to boost your heart health. For example, take stairs instead of the elevator. It can really add up if you do this daily at your workplace. If your day involves a lot of screen time you can still pump up your activity level: march in place during TV commercials or do research while making tracks on a treadmill. You can make a game out of it by doing jumping jacks during video pop-ups or jogging between Zoom sessions.

Practices

You can also make heart-healthy choices that don’t involve diet and exercise. Efforts to maximize your wellness come in many forms.

Relaxation - Practices such as meditation and martial arts contribute to your physical health while also benefiting you mentally.

Routine chiropractic care - Your chiropractor can develop a wellness plan which makes it easy to note changes to your health. This month is a good time to begin making regular visits.

Quit unhealthy habits - When it comes to smoking or overindulging in food or drink, making changes may feel like an uphill battle but it can significantly change your overall health.

Join forces with others - You can help further the mission of American Heart Month when you spread the word and share the message with friends and family. Remind them to participate in National Wear Red Day and challenge them to spend a day as a vegetarian. Another idea is to speak to your relatives about your family’s medical history to become more knowledgeable about potential risks to your health due to genetic makeup.

A visit from Cupid may bring you happiness, but when his arrow pierces your heart it’s also a reminder that your health is important -- inside and out. February is a good time to put your heart in the right place, which means adopting healthy practices such as eating right, exercising, and routine chiropractic visits. After all, don’t you want to be around a long time for your loved ones?

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