February is American Hearth Month, dedicated to promoting awareness about heart disease and encouraging Americans to live an active, healthy life. Unknown to many, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. The startling fact that heart disease can affect many of your loved ones is reason enough to get on your feet and get healthy this February! Luckily on the Central Coast, there are endless opportunities to do just this. Organizations like the American Heart Association are dedicated to providing people with great advice and guidance in helping anyone start making those important changes towards living their healthiest life. So take this month to jump start your health and make a big difference in your life!
1. Add exercise into your daily routine.
Even if you’re not an avid exerciser, there are simple ways to start getting those athletic juices flowing! Create a schedule to indicate which days of the week you are going to set time aside to exercise and include what kind of work outs you will do. This can be anything as simple as going on a 15-30 minute walk three times a week to something more rigorous, like running a mile. Once you start exercising, it only gets easier from there! Soon enough, you’ll start to feel yourself getting stronger and you can incorporate different types of workouts. Another great way to keep yourself organized is to sign up for a boot camp or exercise classes, like boxing or barre. These keep you accountable to consistently exercise, and you can make some friends along the way!
2. Increase healthy eating.
Eating nutritious, wholesome meals is a huge part of maintaining heart health. With the new exercise schedule you’re trying out, you’re going to need to fuel your body! Similar to working out, keeping a schedule and being organized is key to keeping up on your healthy eating. Set a day of the week where you go grocery shopping and slowly try to incorporate wholesome meals into your days. You can start by eating a healthy dinner or even meal-prepping for the week, so you always have something good to grab. Healthy food doesn’t have to mean dieting or restricting your meals! You can even eat out when trying to eat healthy, especially on the Central Coast. Restaurants like The Natural Cafe, Poke Chef, Bowl’d, Bliss Cafe, Seeds, and Pluto’s all offer tons of lighter options. Learn more about how to start eating better with the American Heart Association.
3. Work towards a healthy goal.
Setting a goal for yourself is a great way to measure your progress and also even reward yourself after all that hard work! You can make short-term and long-term goals related to heart health that will help you stay on track and make good decisions. This can be anything related to your health, like an exercise goal or even related to your diet. Exercise goals like improving your hiking time on your favorite trail or hitting your daily step goal every week are easy, less constraining ways to mark your progress. If you’re feeling really ambitious, start training for a local 5K or half marathon! If you’re plagued with higher blood pressure or cholesterol, commit yourself to making a plan to lower those numbers and make a future appointment with your doctor to check your health. After you’ve reached your goal, reward yourself with some new athletic gear from your favorite brand or massage to work out those tired muscles. The options are endless when making healthy decisions!
4. Work on your mental health too!
Healthy living isn’t just about diet and exercise! So many people forget that true health includes a balance between physical and mental health, ensuring you are getting enough sleep, practicing mindfulness, and monitoring your stress levels. In addition, maintaining important relationships can help you feel fulfilled and loved. There are tons of easy ways to create this balance in your life, like participating in mindful meditation, finding a self-care activity you enjoy, and even just taking time to rest or relax.