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It’s February and American Heart Month. It’s also time to take stock in your heart’s health. As the area experts on heart health and care, WakeMed is celebrating this entire month and invites you to live life young at heart.

By making these 28 lifestyle changes, you can take steps to stay young at heart!

29 Days and 29 Ways to Live Life Young at Heart

couple smiling

Eat Your Veggies

Eat your veggies. They’re loaded with fiber and antioxidants. And, when it comes to your heart, the greener — as in broccoli, green peppers and zucchini — the better.

Learn more about the impact what you eat has on your heart. 

dog holding leash in mouth

 Walk the Dog (again)

Walk the dog. Again. Because your best friend is your heart’s best friend. After all, who else can lure you off the couch and drag you out the door for a brisk walk?

two children playing doctor and patient

 Get regular check-ups

Get regular checkups for blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes. Because, when you know your numbers, you can get back on track and, more important, stay there.

Schedule an appointment with a primary care physician.

scissor cutting negative phrase

Be positive

Be positive. Look at the bright side. See the glass as half full. Develop a positive mental attitude. Your blood pressure goes down. And your heart gives you the thumbs up. 

Find out more.

illustration of path at beach

Warm Up to Oatmeal

Warm up to oatmeal. Coarse or steel-cut, it’s a fiber-rich super food. Full of omega-3 fatty acids and potassium. Add a banana for more fiber and your heart will thank you.

American Heart Association Recipe: Overnight No-Cook Banana Oatmeal

doctor holding heart monitor

Watch Your Blood Pressure

Watch your blood pressure. Check it regularly. Better yet, get your own cuff, keep track of your numbers and, if they’re too high, your doctor can help you bring them down. Learn more about why it is important to keep your blood pressure under control.

Learn from the American Heart Association: How to Monitor Your Blood Pressure at Home

dad teaching child how to ride bike

Explore Your Greenway

Explore your greenway. It’s there for a reason. Take the baby for a stroll. Hop on a bike. Go for a run. Hold hands and walk. Whatever you do, your heart could use the exercise.

"I love to ride my bicycle, and I try to get out on the road as much as possible." - Stuart Russell, MD, WakeMed Heart & Vascular - Advanced Heart Failure

Wake County Greenway Maps

people cooking vegetables

Bake, Broil or Stir Fry

Bake, broil or stir fry. When it comes to a heart healthy diet, it’s not only what you eat but how you cook it. So bake, broil, stir fry and cut the saturated fat out of your diet.

American Heart Association Recipes: Broccoli Beef Stir Fry

older woman laughing

Laugh Out Loud

Laugh out loud. When it comes to your heart, laughter is indeed the best medicine. It can raise your good cholesterol. And reduce stress and inflammation. So c'mon. LOL

Need a little motivation to laugh? We thought this was funny.

women running across a finish line

Get Up and Move

Get up and move. Get off the couch. Don’t worry. Be active. Walk. Jog. Dance. Step away from your desk. Turn household chores into workouts. Take regular breaks to move around. Your heart will last longer. And so will you.

A few simple ways to increase your activity level.

salt shaker

Shake Off The Salt

Shake off the salt. It’s in just about everything you buy or eat. Adding more salt from the salt shaker just adds to your risk of heart disease. And you don’t want to go there.

Need to know where to get started shaking off the salt?

Start with these six salty foods.

couple hugging and holding a red heart

Give a Hug. Get a Hug

Give a hug to a loved one. Get a hug from a loved one. Reduce stress and anxiety. Lower your blood pressure. Feel good all over. When it comes to your heart, never underestimate the healing power of a hug.

couple dancing

Dance, Dance, Dance

Dance. Dance. Dance. Pop in those ear buds. Bust a few moves. Crank up your favorite tunes. Crank up your heart rate. It’s a heart healthy workout that also happens to be fun.

"I Zumba to stay heart healthy." - Anomis Dula, WakeMed Audiologist - WakeMed Physician Practices - ENT - Head & Neck Surgery

Check out these moves.

lightbulb with a heart

Open Your Heart to New Ideas

Open your heart to new ideas. Be receptive to new and exciting ways of doing things. Keep evolving. Embracing change has never been better for your heart.

Find 40 Free Things to Do Near You

Find New Attractions Near Raleigh

lady in rollers eating chocolate

Savor Dark Chocolate

Savor dark chocolate. It contains lots of heart healthy flavonoids which can actually lower your risk of heart disease. So do your heart good. Indulge your sweet tooth.

Learn about the benefits of chocolate.

woman lying on grass holding planter

Reduce Stress

Reduce stress. Curl up with a good book. Get a massage. Meditate. Learn a new skill and go all out. Because, when the subject is stress reduction, your heart is all in.

Learn how happiness affects your health.

sheep going over a fence

Sweet Dreams

Sweet dreams. A good night’s sleep reduces your heart’s workload. Blood pressure goes down. Heart rate slows down. You get some sleep. Your heart gets a breather.

Find out how much sleep you really need.

couple walking up outdoor stairs

Take the Stairs

Take the stairs. Instead of the elevator. Exercise is key to a healthy heart and even the smallest step is a step toward better fitness. And when you’re fit, so too is your heart.

"I take my lunch to work almost every day and try to take the stairs whenever possible for additional exercise during my work day." - Matthew White, MD - WakeMed Heart & Vascular - General & Interventional Cardiology

Ways to Limit Sodium and Improve Heart Health

fisherman holding a fish

Get Hooked on Fish

Get hooked on fish. Whether it’s salmon, tuna, sea bass or sardines, fish is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. Which help prevent heart disease. So, at least twice a week, go fish.

Check out this seafood advisory, so you can pick the safest fish for you in NC waterways.

businessman running across chair

Know Your Risk 

Know your risk factors. High blood pressure. High cholesterol. A family history of heart disease. The more you know, the more effectively you can manage your risks.

Find out more about how high blood pressure affects your health.

girls playing on a swing

Be A Kid Again

Be a kid again. Channel your inner child. Run. Jump. Play laser tag. Get fit, burn calories, give your heart a workout and, all the while, have fun. Remember fun?

"I love hiking and exploring new places!" - Shirley Huang, MD - WakeMed Physician Practices - Pediatric Weight Management

Live. Laugh. Love. See five tips for managing your mood (and heart health!)

hot and spicy graphic

Spice Things Up

Spice things up. Limit salt in your diet by replacing it with herbs and spices. Whether it’s garlic powder, oregano, cayenne pepper or curry powder, your heart’s loving it.

Super 7 Spices and Herbs and How to Use Them 

couple eating veggies

Check Your Cholesterol

Check your cholesterol. HDL. LDL. Triglycerides. High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. So, for a healthy heart, keep your cholesterol levels in check.

Find out more about your cholesterol. 

lady doing yoga

Give Yoga A Try

Yoga will help you relax, reduce stress and improve your balance, strength and flexibility. Did we mention it may even improve your heart health? Well, we just did.

You likely have yoga resources at your fingertips you never even considered, including You Tube, Netflix, Amazon, library books, classes at the gym, and many more.

man relaxing in chair

Take Time for Yourself

Take time for yourself. Give yourself a break. Carve out some alone time to gather your thoughts, relax, slow down and recharge. Besides, your heart could use the downtime.

feet on a scale

Manage Your Weight

Manage your weight. Because excess belly fat has been linked to high blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol levels. And obesity can lead to diabetes. Time to slim down.

Learn more about how your weight affects your heart health. 

three ladies holding a gift

Pay it Forward

Pay it forward. Someone does something nice for you. You do something nice for someone else. You feel good. They feel good. And, best of all, it does your heart good.

Find a Way to Give Back Near You.

thank you graphic

Be Thankful 

Saying thank you from the bottom of your heart... is also good for your heart. At WakeMed, we are thankful for the many cardiologists who use their talent and expertise to take care of the hearts of so many in our community. To learn more about our WakeMed Heart & Vascular Physicians, visit: wakemed.org/hearts. And, THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts.

Enjoy mom and daughter jogging on beachyour 115,200 extra beats.

It's leap day, which only comes around once a year. Use your 24 hours and 115,200 extra heartbeats wisely. Leap into the day inspired to make a heart healthy choice — eat healthy, dance, laugh out loud, go for a walk, say no to stress. To learn more about our WakeMed Heart & Vascular Physicians, visit: wakemed.org/hearts. And, THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts.