Keep that heart happy

February is American Heart Month, so here’s five tips from the YMCA of the Capital Area to keep you and your family heart healthy:

1 Get physical: Being physically active every day is fun and can improve the function of your heart. Plan and schedule opportunities for active play. For example, include a brisk 10-minute trip around the block after meals or a 10-minute walking break during the day. If your family enjoys active video games, select versions that require moving the body’s large muscle groups while playing.

2 Take a snooze: Lack of sleep has been associated with elevated cholesterol and blood pressure. Adults need at least seven, but no more than nine hours, of sleep at night to aid with the prevention of heart disease. Children need 10-12 hours of sleep per night.

3Shape up those recipes: Makeover your family’s favorite recipes by reducing the amount of salt and saturated fat and substituting a lower fat food (for example low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream) can make a recipe healthier without sacrificing taste.

4Feeling the pressure: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lowering or maintaining normal blood pressure can greatly reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. Nearly one in three adults — about 67 million people — has high blood pressure and more than half of them don’t have it under control. Get your blood pressure checked regularly and discuss the results with you doctor.

5Play together: Spending time together as a family is a great way to reduce stress, which is important to heart health.

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