Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but the month of February celebrates more than your love for someone else. February is American Heart Month and it’s not about the candy hearts you munched on earlier this month. It’s about the heart that works hard to keep you alive.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for American men and women and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 647,000 Americans die from heart disease each year, which is roughly 1 in every 4 deaths.
Heart disease occurs when plaque buildup thickens and stiffens artery walls, which can inhibit blood flow through your arteries to your organs and tissues. High blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease. The CDC notes that about 47 percent of Americans have at least one of these three risk factors.
Some medical conditions and lifestyle choices can also put people at a high risk for heart disease, including: diabetes, overweight and obesity, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and excessive alcohol use.
While this can seem scary, the good news is that heart disease is preventable. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle greatly reduces your risk of heart disease.
Here are five ways to keep your heart healthy:
- Get Moving!
The best way to combat heart disease is to regularly get your blood pumping. For at least 30 minutes a day (or in chunks of 5, 10 or 15 minutes) get some physical activity in. This can include, squats, punches, walking or running. It’s recommended to add in weight training two days a week as well.
Ways to fit this in on the road:
- Dedicate 10 minutes of your break at the truck stop for movement. Go for a brisk walk around the truck stop. Do some jumping jacks next to the truck. Find some quick travel workouts you can do anywhere, such as these ones from Nerd Fitness.
- Eat Healthy Foods.
Aim for a diet abundant in fruits and vegetables and low on added sugar or sweeteners, saturated fat and sodium.
Check out our “5 Healthy Food Tips When You’re on the Go” blog for suggestions on nutritious food options when on the road.
- Quit Smoking.
The chemicals in tobacco smoke harm your heart and blood vessels in many ways. It can be a challenge to quit, so we recommend you find your support system of friends and family before you tackle this challenge. Set up who you can call when you’re traveling and want to smoke to help remind you of why you’ve quit. For more tips, visit https://smokefree.gov.
- Reduce Stress.
- Improve Sleep.
Some of the above meditation apps can also help your sleep. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
With a few lifestyle changes, you can greatly reduce your chances of suffering from heart disease in the future.
What are some of your favorite ways to stay healthy on the road? We’d love to share them with all our drivers!