As Valentine’s Day approaches, matters of the heart are on the mind, but a romantic meal shouldn’t be the only thing on the menu.
If you have a partner then the best present you can give is better health for you both. This year why not take a little time to consider how healthy your heart is and some positive changes you could make.
“Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to remind your loved one how much you care, but it is also a good time to take care of yourself and to consider the health of your heart” says Chris Gregory, cardiac physiologist at Spire The Glen Hospital Bristol.
“The statistics relating to heart disease are scary, but the good news is that some simple lifestyle changes can keep your heart in great shape. Here are my tips on how to avoid a broken heart this year.”
1. Reduce salt. Consuming too much salt can lead to high blood pressure which contributes to heart problems. When choosing what to eat for your Valentine’s dinner, opt for low-foods so it’s important to limit your intake. Nuts, crisps, pizza and ready meals all contain a high level of salt, and you should always check the packaging because many processed products contain hidden salt.
2. Weigh in. People know that being very overweight is not healthy and where your heart is concerned a normal weight is essential to avoid putting extra strain on your body including your heart. Getting on the scales might not be the most romantic way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, but making an effort to lose weight can make a big difference to your heart.
3. Stop smoking. Smoking is disastrous for your health and smokers are twice as likely to suffer a heart attack than non-smokers. As soon as you quit, your risk of heart disease begins to drop dramatically. Valentine’s Day is a reminder of how much we love our other halves, so it’s a great time to pledge to pack in the cigarettes.
4. Enjoy a massage. Stress affects your behavior. It places a strain on your health and can lead people to drink and smoke more, so it’s important to manage your stress levels. Treat each other to a relaxing massage – not only will it relieve stress but can also boost your mood.
5. Cut down on alcohol. Binge drinking increases the risk of a heart attack and over a long period of time over-consumption of alcohol can seriously damage the heart muscle, increase blood pressure and also lead to weight gain. You should still enjoy a glass of bubbly on Valentine’s night if you want to, just don’t drink the whole bottle.
6. Get fit. Your heart is a muscle which needs to be trained to keep it in tip-top condition. If you’re new to exercise start off slowly with a walk around the park or a bike ride. Any exercise that increases your pulse will be strengthening your heart and helping it pump fresh, oxygenated blood to your muscles. Working out can also benefit your relationship as if you feel healthier you’ll be a better partner.
7. Know your history. Family history is important as you’re at more risk of heart disease if your close relatives have also suffered from it. Take the time to research your family history and have the appropriate health checks if you find you’re at higher risk.