February is the month of love, but Valentine’s Day isn’t the only holiday related to the heart this month! This month is also American Heart Month, a month designated to raise awareness about the single largest cause of death among Americans—heart disease. That’s why our team at AFC Urgent Care Sevierville would like to share some tips for better heart health!

Protect Your Heart

First, exercise is a must. As you exercise, your heart gets stronger. The stronger your heart is, the better it can pump blood and oxygen throughout the body. If you aren’t a workout fanatic, don’t worry. Start with a small amount of exercise on most days of the week and work your way up. Guidelines recommend that most adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week—or just more than 20 minutes per day. That’s attainable, right?

The most important thing you can do to help create a heart-healthy exercise habit is to find an activity (or several) that you truly enjoy. You’ll be more likely to continue exercising if you like what you’re doing.

For example, you might be interested in running a marathon one day. Start training for a race—competing against no one but yourself. You may even want to consider signing up for the upcoming Warrior 12 Marathon, 10 Mile & 5K in Sevierville as an extra motivator!

However, if running is the last thing you want to do, there are plenty of other activities to choose form. Did you know that dancing could be a good cardio workout? The upcoming Daddy/Daughter Dance in Pigeon Forge on Feb. 10 would be a perfect time to give your heart muscle a workout, while also making important memories.

Second, you need to take a hard look at your diet. What are you eating most of the time? Is it a balanced, healthy diet, or one filled with too much sugar and too much fat? Fill up your plate with heart-healthy foods, including fruits and vegetables, lean proteins (such as chicken or turkey), whole grains, and a moderate amount of healthy fats, like those found in olive oil or fatty fish. Skip fried foods, which can be loaded in sodium and fat.

Third, if you smoke, stop! Smoking wreaks havoc on the entire body, but it’s especially harmful for your heart. That’s why quitting smoking is one of the single best ways you can prevent heart disease. Not sure where to begin when it comes to smoking cessation? Talk with your doctor or call 1 (800) QUIT-NOW for advice.

Finally, be sure you’re getting plenty of quality sleep each night. A lack of sleep has been shown to increase your body’s insulin resistance, which in turn increases your risk of developing both diabetes and heart disease. Most American adults should get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

It’s never too late to turn your heart health around. Visit AFC Urgent Care Sevierville today for a routine physical exam to learn where your health stands and what you can improve.