February is American Heart Month, so what better time to start new habits that will improve your heart health than now? According to the CDC, nearly half of American adults have high blood pressure and only around 25% of them have it under control.
Whether you fall into that statistic or you’d like to take preventative measures to ensure that your heart stays in good health down the road, here are three tips for better heart health. Try picking just one of these at a time and focusing on it until it becomes a habit.
1. Add more naturally low-sodium foods to your diet
I often find an abundance of “limit this” and “don’t eat that” articles, but very few that talk about what to add to our diet. A heart-healthy diet can easily be obtained when we focus on addition, not subtraction (and it’s a much more positive and satisfying experience). When we add low-sodium foods to our diet, we naturally eat less high-sodium foods without feeling restricted.
Here are some heart-healthy low-sodium foods to add to your diet: meat, fish, poultry, vegetables, fruit, unsalted or lightly salted nuts and nut butters, whole grains (like quinoa and brown rice), and many more! Herbs and spices are typically free of sodium (or contain very little) as well—no need to sacrifice on flavor!
2. Add daily movement to your routine
We all know that regular exercise is great for our heart health. Did you know that you don’t have to work out for a full hour each day for it to “count?” If you walked for only 20 minutes per day, 365 days per year, that’s over 120 hours of walking, or more than five full 24-hour days! Try telling me that “doesn’t count.”
Shift the focus of why you’re exercising. Too often, we exercise with the only goal being weight loss, which makes it super easy to fall off the wagon. When we shift the focus of exercise to feeling good every day, it’s much easier to stick with it and actually enjoy it. After all, we know that moving more makes us feel better.
3. Drink more water
I know, I know. “Drink more water” sounds like a broken record. There’s a reason you’ve heard this tip a thousand times and yet many people I work with still aren’t drinking enough water. That’s because it takes time to make a habit stick. A few tips I have to increase water intake:
Use a large cup or bottle instead of a small one. It’s much easier to keep track of and drink three 24-oz. bottles per day than nine 8-oz. bottles, for example.
Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to drink water throughout the day.
Keep a full glass of water on your nightstand so you can start the day off strong right when you wake up.
Remember what I said about how adding low-sodium foods can help to reduce our intake of high-sodium foods? The same can be said for water. If you focus on adding water to your day, you’ll likely start to naturally drink less soda, juice, and other high-sugar beverages without having to focus on limiting it.
Want to learn more about heart health this month? Join us during our Facebook Live event on Thursday, February 18th at 3:30 p.m. EST. I’m going live to discuss heart health and answer questions.
You can “like” the One Drop Facebook page by clicking this link. This is where the live event will take place. Can’t wait to see you there!
Please consult with your doctor before making any major changes to your diet, fluid intake, and exercise routine.