American Heart Month

Elderly woman has blood pressure checked by a nurse

February is American Heart Month and we're encouraging you to take care of your ticker. After all, it takes care of you every day! 

The American Heart Association recently found that blood pressure has worsened in adults, making it increasingly important to get a blood pressure screening and focus on becoming heart healthy. Here at the Y, we encourage heart-healthy habits through exercise, mindfulness and nutrition.

And, we're teaming up with Keystone First to offer free blood pressure screenings to the community this month. Join us during the Gift of Heart Health Week, between Feb 5 and 12.

In the meantime, we're sharing tips to help you become heart healthy this February - and all year long!

  1. Get Moving: Being physically active every day can improve the function of your heart. No matter your interest or abilities, there is are opportunities to incorporate movement throughout your day.

    Plan and schedule opportunities for activity daily. For example, you can walk around the block after meals or between episodes of your favorite show. If you have limited mobility, incorporate leg and arm stretches that you can perform from a seated position. 

  2. Rest up: Lack of sleep can be associated with elevated cholesterol and blood pressure. Develop bedtime routines to assist with falling asleep faster and staying asleep.

    For example, you can plan to read for 10-20 minutes before bedtime instead of watching a screen. And, incorporating meditation and mindfulness throughout your day will help to quiet your mind, allowing you to fall asleep more easily.

  3. Revamp your Recipes: Revising your favorite recipes to reduce the amount of salt and saturated fat can contribute to heart health. Try substituting a lower fat food to avoid sacrificing the taste.

    For example, low-fat yogurt makes a healthy substitute for sour cream. Try to avoid seasoning packets which can have high amounts of sodium. Instead, season with spices from your cabinet so that you can control the amount of salt used. 

    When looking for substitutions, be sure to read nutritional labels, selecting foods with less than 1,000 mg of sodium per serving.

  4. Check your Pressure: Per the American Heart Association, nearly half of all Americans (46 percent) have high blood pressure. Lowering or maintaining normal blood pressure can greatly reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke.

    Start self-monitoring your blood pressure, schedule a check in with your doctor or visit the Y during the Gift of Heart Health Week to have your blood pressure screened.

  5. Increase Quality Time: Spending time with loved ones helps to reduce stress, which is important to heart health. Check out our tips for increasing quality time throughout the year.