February is the Heart Health month in the U.S.
Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham give people advice about how to improve heart health.
Assistant Professor Joanna Joly, M.D. and colleagues suggest there are several ways people can to improve their heart health to combat heart disease.
Diet is one thing people can improve to protect their heart health.
Healthy eating is an effective way to reduce plaque build-up in coronary arteries. It could help prevent the most common type of heart disease — coronary artery disease.
People should include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, skinless poultry and fish, nuts and legumes, and olive oils in their diet.
In addition, they should reduce or avoid sugary drinks and sweet treats, fatty meats, solid fats like butter, and foods high in added sugar and salt.
Researchers suggest that plant-based diets could offer every nutrient the body needs to stay healthy.
Exercise is another thing people can do.
Previous studies have shown that sitting too much could increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity.
It also increases the risks of high blood pressure, osteoporosis, colon cancer, and mental diseases like depression and anxiety.
Researchers recommend adults get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity.
In addition, children ages 6-17 should get at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise.
Managing stress is also important for heart health.
Finding a hobby or activity you enjoy doing is a good way to manage daily stress.
Researchers recommend hobbies that encourage people to have an active lifestyle, such as walking, jogging, hiking, dancing, biking, and swimming.
Hobbies that encourage creativity are also good for heart health, including art, acting, music, and writing.
Other relaxing activities include attending a concert, seeing a museum exhibit, or reading a good book.
Finally, visit a physician regularly to check your heart health and blood pressure is one thing you can do to ensure you are living heart-healthy.
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