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For a Healthier Heart – Count to 10

February is Heart Health Month, a time to learn more about how to protect our hearts. Whether you’re living with heart disease or trying to prevent it, small changes can make a big difference.

Focus on small changes. Count to 10 and make one small step each day.

  1. Take a 10-minute walk. If you don’t exercise at all, a brief walk is the best way to start. If you are already active, adding more steps to your day is a plus.
  2. Give yourself a lift. Lifting a 2-pound weight (milk jug, hardcover book, etc.) a few times a day tones your arm muscles. For a greater challenge, try heavier items or join a gym.
  3. Add one extra fruit or vegetable a day. Fruits and vegetables are not expensive, they taste good and are good for every part of your body from your teeth to your toes.
  4. Count on breakfast. Start your day with some fruit and a serving of whole grains, like oatmeal, bran flakes or whole-wheat toast.
  5. Stop drinking your calories. Cutting out just one sugar-sweetened soda or high-calorie latte can easily save you 100 or more calories a day. In a year, that adds up to a 10-pound weight loss.
  6. Have a handful of nuts. Walnuts, almonds, peanuts and other nuts are heart healthy. Instead of chips or cookies, keep nuts on hand for snacks. Add them to salads for crunch or in place of meat in pasta and other dishes.
  7. Sample seafood. Eat fish or other seafood instead of red meat once a week. It’s good for the heart, brain and waist.
  8. Breathe deeply. A few minutes each day, try breathing slowly and deeply. It helps you relax and may lower blood pressure.
  9. Wash your hands often. Scrub with soap and water often during the day to protect your heart and health. The flu, pneumonia and other infections can be very hard on the heart.
  10. Be thankful. Take a moment each day to acknowledge your life’s blessings. Show your appreciation to others. 

These 10 habits have been linked to better health, longer life and greater well-being. When you practice simple steps, over time you will notice improvements like lower blood pressure, better sleep, more energy and improved overall well-being.