We usually think of February as the month of hearts for Valentine’s Day.
But February is also American Heart Month, sponsored by the American Heart Association, to raise awareness and to help people lose weight, eat better, invigorate their exercise routines and more.
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the United States, responsible for 1 in every 4 deaths and 735,000 heart attacks annually, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
The good news: Heart disease is preventable. Exercise and eating right are the top tools to improve our heart health and lower our risk for heart disease and heart attacks, according to the American Heart Association.
For people over 50, exercise, including strength training, is vital. As most people age, their hearts get smaller and weaker, and major arteries can stiffen. That reduces or slows blood flow through the body.
The best prevention is to exercise throughout life. But it’s never too late to start to gain some of the benefits. This New York Times article explained some of the latest research in detail.
Weightlifting among mature adults improves heart health by decreasing blood pressure and “bad” cholesterol while improving “good” cholesterol. Exercising and eating right also fight obesity, which contributes to heart issues.
The heart association also sponsors Go Red for Women each February. You can learn more on this site, which calls on everyone to move more, eat smart, and manage blood pressure.
The National Institutes of Health is also sponsoring a discussion on social media all month using the hashtag #OurHearts.