February is American Heart Month

Did you know that people who have close relationships at home, work, or in their community tend to be healthier and live longer? One reason, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) is that we’re more successful at meeting our health goals when we join forces with others. NHLBI launched the #OurHearts movement to inspire us to protect and strengthen our hearts with the support of others.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Health problems that increase the risk of heart disease are common in African American communities, including being overweight and having high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and diabetes. We can combat heart disease through our connections with others. Consider these five lifestyle tips and share them with those you care about:

Get Moving! Keep your body active throughout your day. Aim for at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week. Build up to activity that gets your heart beating faster and leaves you a little breathless. Invite family, friends, colleagues, or members of your community to join you in your efforts to be more physically active by making walking dates or by joining an online fitness class like AAHP’s Health and Fitness classes for zumba on Tuesdays at 11am, and yoga on Wednesdays at 10am.

Eat heart healthy! We tend to eat like our friends and family, so ask others close to you to join in your effort to eat healthier. Together, try NHLBI’s free Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan, which is free and scientifically proven to lower high blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels. Find delicious heart healthy recipes at NHLBI’s Heart Healthy Eating.

Get your sleep! Sleeping 7-8 hours each night helps improve heart health. To get better sleep, try going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Turn off all screens at a set time nightly. Instead of watching TV before bed, relax by listening to music, reading, or taking a bath.

Manage your stress. Reducing stress is good for your heart! Implement stress management techniques such as breathing exercises and relaxing mind-body exercises like yoga and tai-chi. Physical activity also helps reduce stress. Join a friend or family member to do a relaxing activity every day, like walking, yoga,  meditation, or participate in a stress management program together. If you are feeling especially troubled, talk to a qualified mental health provider or someone you trust.

Track your heart health stats. Keeping a log of your blood pressure, weight goals, physical activity, and if you have diabetes, your blood sugars, will help you stay on a heart healthy track. Ask your friends or family to join you in the effort. Check out NHLBI’s Healthy Blood Pressure for Healthy Hearts: Tracking Your Numbers worksheet.

Learn about heart health and heart healthy activities in your community at nhlbi.nih.gov/ourhearts. Use #OurHearts on social media to share how you and your friends, colleagues or family members are being heart healthy together.


The African American Health Program is funded and administered by the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services and implemented by McFarland & Associates, Inc.
1401 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD 20852
(240) 777-1833
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