February is often associated with hearts and love, celebrating Valentine’s Day. Though we support showing your loved ones how much you care, we also support showing yourself some love by caring for your heart!
Heart disease was the number one cause of death in South Carolina in 2017-2019. To recognize American Heart Month, DHEC’s Healthcare Quality has put together a list of ways you can love your heart and be on your way to a healthier lifestyle.
Aerobic exercise, otherwise known as “cardio”, is used to strengthen heart and blood vessels, improve oxygen flow, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly made it difficult to incorporate exercise into a daily routine. With gym closings and an at-home gym equipment shortage, many are finding creative ways to still give their heart the care it needs through exercise.
Below are some ideas if you do not have access to a gym or equipment:
- Body weight aerobics like squats, burpees, lunges, push-ups, sit-ups and more
- Utilizing stairs for a cardiovascular workout
- Going outdoors for a walk or run
Exercise isn’t the only solution to maintaining a healthy heart.
Stress management is a tool that many often overlook as a preventative measure to declining heart health. Chronic stress can lead to unhealthy behaviors to cope such as smoking, overeating, and heavy alcohol consumption.
COVID-19 is a chronic stressor all of us have had to endure this past year. Visit this link for more information on how to manage stress during the pandemic. You may also visit DHEC’s Worksite Wellness and Safety page for health-related tips, and for resources coping with the mental and emotional strain of COVID-19, you can check out the agency’s Mental Health Resources page for employees.
Acute stress, stress that is short-term, can lead to a rise in blood pressure and heart rate. Managing stress can come in many forms. Most people would think of a vacation first, which is a great way to decompress. However, due to travel restrictions from COVID-19, alternatives are needed.
Below are some ideas to help you brainstorm ways you may want to try and relieve stress:
- Painting, drawing, making music, etc.
- Exercising (double the benefit if this is a stress reliever for you)
- Reading (you can check out books for free from a local library)
- Keep a daily journal
During the month of February, DHEC hopes that one of the acts of love you show is one to yourself and your heart. By committing to leading a healthier lifestyle and managing stress in healthier ways, we can fight the statistic of heart disease being the number one cause of death in South Carolina.