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12 Months of Wellness (February): Commit to Your Heart Health

If we were to ask you to name the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, could you? Go ahead, take a guess. The answer—heart disease. But while it takes the crown, that doesn’t mean it has to take your life. With February being American Heart Month, there’s no better time than now to focus on the steps you can take to help protect yourself from this deadly disease; it’s no coincidence that our 12 Months of Wellness challenge this month is all about committing to your heart health.

Factors that Increase the Risk for Heart Disease

Heart disease can be caused by any number of risk factors. While the good news is that you can take steps to remedy some, unfortunately, others are out of your control. These risk factors include:
  • Lifestyle behaviors such as unhealthy eating (particularly diets high in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, and sodium), a lack of exercise, excessive alcohol consumption, and tobacco use
  • Family history and genetics
  • Medical conditions including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes
  • Age, gender, and ethnicity
Of course, this is where February’s 12 Months of Wellness challenge comes in…

How to Protect Against Heart Disease

You’re not defenseless in the fight against heart disease, which is why making the decision to commit to your heart health is so important. At the end of the day, it comes down to healthy living—a dedication to more than just beauty from the inside out and the outside in; instead, a dedication to wellness from the inside out and outside in. Read on for some of the steps you can take to complete this month’s challenge (and more importantly, set yourself up for better heart health):
  • Commit to 30 minutes of physical activity four days a week. Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you suddenly start logging double-digit miles on a treadmill every single day. Whether your activity of choice involves taking a brisk walk around the neighborhood or something slightly more intense, the key is that you do it regularly to ensure optimal benefits.
  • Give meal prepping a try. When life gets busy (and when is it not?), it can be easy to make less-than-ideal food choices for the sake of convenience. This month, challenge yourself to limit sugar intake, eat fewer processed foods, or cut down on the amount of sodium in your diet. Dedicate a few hours of your weekend to preparing healthy meals ahead of time, making those “grab-and-go” food choices during the week quick, easy, and guilt-free.
  • When the vending machine calls, just say no. No matter how masterful your meal-prep skills become, you can easily undo all of that hard work with poor snack choices. We know what you’re thinking: “But it’s so hard when I’m in a rush.” Sorry, but we’re not buying that excuse…and neither is your health. Sliced vegetables, fruit, and nuts aren’t just smart choices, but they’re also easy to prepare in advance and convenient for grabbing on the go.
Will you be committing to this month’s 12 Months of Wellness challenge? Let us know and share your progress on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the #PerriconeMD hashtag.