February marks American Heart Month, a great time to commit to a healthy lifestyle and make small ch

Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference

Schedule a visit with your doctor to talk about heart health. It’s important to schedule regular check-ups even if you think you are not sick. Partner with your doctor and health care team to set goals for improving your heart health, and don’t be afraid to ask questions and trust their advice. Always talk to your doctor before you begin a new exercise routine.

Add exercise to your daily routine.

Start off the month by walking 15 minutes, 3 times each week. By mid-month, increase your time to 30 minutes, 3 times each week. To get the maximum heart health benefit from any aerobic exercise, aim to reach between 50 and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. Climbing stairs is an easy way to get into that target range, whether you do it at home or at the gym on a stair machine. To find your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220.

Increase healthy eating.

Cook heart-healthy meals at home at least 3 times each week and make your favorite recipe lower sodium. For example, swap out salt for fresh or dried herbs and spices. The American Heart Association’s website has recipes that are so good you won’t even think “healthy” you will think “delicious”!

Take steps to quit smoking.

If you currently smoke, quitting can cut your risk for heart disease and stroke. Learn more at CDC’s Smoking and Tobacco Use.

Hold hands.

Besides relieving stress, holding hands with your partner lowers your blood pressure, which is one of the major contributors to heart disease. ... The power of a warm touch goes beyond the health benefits to the heart; a study from Behavioral Medicine backs up this claim

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