Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate all the love you have in your life. But it’s important to remember that you wouldn’t be able to enjoy all those special relationships without a strong, working heart. So this Feb. 14, show your heart a little love, and commit to taking better care of it this year.
According to Health Canada, heart disease is the number one cause of death among Canadians. Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, and your family history can increase your risk, but there are some quick and effective changes you can make to boost your cardiovascular health now and for years down the road.
Health Canada recommends 60 minutes of accumulated physical activity in a day to keep your heart in shape. This doesn’t mean you have to hit the treadmill every day for an hour. Simply going for a half-hour walk with a friend, taking the stairs at work and running a few errands by foot rather than by car will quickly add up. A light jog with your partner or pooch every now and then certainly won’t hurt either. Find new ways to have fun while getting active, such as testing out a Zumba class or popping in a new workout DVD. You and your heart will reap the rewards.
Not sure you have time? Check out these simple ways to fit in exercise >>
Eat a variety of healthy foods
To many, the concept of eating healthily can almost be synonymous with deprivation, but it doesn’t have to be! Canada’s food guide recommends a wide variety of delicious foods to suit anyone’s taste buds. By making meals from a balance of the four food groups, you can ensure your heart is getting all the nutrients it needs to pump effectively. The groups consist of fruits and vegetables; grains; milk and milk alternatives; and meat and meat alternatives. When you eat meals and snacks that combine these healthy options, you do your body and your heart a big favour. Consuming large quantities of high-fat foods can make it very hard for your heart to do its job properly, so for optimal heart health, focus on enjoying a variety of healthy foods as much as possible.
Try out this healthy vegetable fried rice recipe >>
Steer clear of smoking
Quitting smoking or not starting the habit is one of the best gifts you could possibly give your heart. The Heart and Stroke Foundation reports smoking is responsible for 14.54 per cent of all heart disease and stroke deaths. It also reveals that smoking contributes to more than 37,000 deaths a year in Canada, of which almost 11,000 are heart disease and stroke related. Social smoking and spending time around others while they smoke can also be damaging, so steer clear of it altogether.