February is the perfect time to think about what is good for our hearts. On February 14, people think about those they love and attempt to warm their hearts with cards, gifts or other tokens of affection for Valentine’s Day. While people consider theirs and other hearts on this day, they should also consider the health of their hearts for the entire month and honor American Heart Month.
In 1963, Congress asked the president to make February American Heart Month to educate Americans about cardiovascular diseases. Currently, however, the American Heart Association has said that cardiovascular diseases, such as strokes, are the top killers of Americans. Through continuing education about these diseases, however, your clients and employees will be better able to detect disease symptoms and can learn how to prevent heart disease through diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle.
Eating healthy does not have to be a painful experience. Eating a balanced diet is important in maintaining a healthy heart. As we have known for years, diets that contain many fruits and vegetables are good for your heart. The American Heart Association also said that unrefined whole-grain foods and fish, because of their high content of omega-3 fat, are beneficial foods for diets. It is also important to limit the intake of food and drinks with low nutrient content, such as alcohol and foods that are high in sugar and salt. Help members of the community and your hospital remember to keep these foods in their diets with fruit and veggie shaped stress balls. Imprint a slogan like “Don’t stress your heart, eat healthy!”
While maintaining a healthy diet will help your heart, so does exercise.
The American Heart Association’s Web site stated, “According to the latest joint American Heart Association/American College of Sports Medicine guidelines on physical activity, all healthy adults ages 18-65 should be getting at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity five days of the week.” These guidelines change for those older than 65 and those who are 50-64 with a chronic ailment or physical condition. Exercise that is beneficial for the cardiovascular system includes walking, running, jogging, swimming or any other aerobic activity that can raise your heart rate. Provide imprinted pedometers to staff members as a part of your wellness program.
Last, but not least, it is important to educate employees and clients about keeping a healthy lifestyle. Keeping a low stress level, caring for your body and not smoking are all vital to staying healthy. Also, take this time to remind women that heart disease is prevalent among women, as well. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number one killer of American women. When heart disease affects a woman, it can be difficult to detect.
“As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain,” The American Heart Association stated.
Remind women to protect their hearts by keeping a healthy and active lifestyle. One way of doing this is to inform them of the “Go Red” campaign. Imprint the slogan, “Learn about ‘Go Red'” on heart-shaped key chains or paperweights so they are reminded about the importance of a heart-healthy lifestyle every day.
Promote all of these heart-healthy ideas by giving a pedometer to your employees at them beginning of the month. For an extra interesting way to promote health and fitness, give during the first week of February and have them record how much they walk in a given day. At the end of the month, calculate who walked the most and give them a six-month membership to a local gym.
by Abbie Stutzer for The Healthy Moms Magazine
Abbie Stutzer is a graduate student in the School of Journalism at the University of Kansas. She currently works in the marketing department at Absorbent, Ink.