3 Heart Healthy Ways to Make February Love You Back

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Sometimes it is not easy to stick to our New Year’s Resolutions (remember those!?). As Valentine's Day approaches, heart-shaped candies, pink frosted cookies, and assorted chocolates flourish the aisles of our favorite stores (and we wonder…how these things end up in our shopping carts!). Being in constant exposure to these chocolaty temptations makes it easy to give in—despite all efforts to “be good.”

 

In addition to being the month of ‘love,’ February is also American Heart Month, so this year, in addition to Valentine’s day, we're also thinking about the little things you can do that can make a big difference for your health—so your heart will love you back!

 

 

1. Regular Massage
Did we say a massage? Yes we did! What might sound like an indulgence at first, could actually be a very important step in your overall health regimen. Did you know that stress has a lasting impact on your physical wellbeing? Regular massage prevents and soothes just that: tension and stress. Therapeutic massage reverses the harmful effects that stress can have on your body. 

 

Massage has been known to improve and increase circulation, as well as reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure and reduce heart rate. (WellnessMats, too, have been proven to improve circulation as well!) So maybe regular massage will not (and should not) replace prescribed medicine and/or visits to your doctor. However, we do suggest considering massage as something more than just a treat—it’s a step toward a healthier heart! Making healthy choices never felt so good.

 

TIP:
Celebrate Valentine's Day with a couples massage. It's a great way to show your loved one you care about them...and their heart! 

 

 

2. More Fiber, Less Saturated Fats
Maintaining a ‘heart-healthy’ diet does NOT mean limiting yourself to Cheerios (or Kashi)! You can still enjoy delicious, interesting and diverse foods to keep both your heart and palate happy. For starters, we suggest updating your diet with more fiber and less saturated fats.
Foods that are high in fiber have a slew of heart-healthy benefits—they can help lower ‘bad’ cholesterol, control blood pressure and blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation, and even help achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Fresh produce is a power-packed source of blood vessel protecting nutrients and can significantly reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Other foods high in fiber include whole grains, beans, and nuts—so eat up!

 

Take caution to avoid saturated fats, notorious for raising cholesterol levels (and usually add up to a lot more calories). The American Heart Association recommends limiting your intake of saturated fats to as little as 5% of your overall diet. Implementing healthier food choices in your everyday life is just another way to keep your heart healthy year round. Be conscious of what you put into your body and remember—your heart will thank you!

 

TIP:
Plan on buying chocolate for your Valentine? If so, check the label and look for at least 60% cacao. Dark chocolate can actually improve heart function!

 

 

3. Bodyweight Exercise
Did you fall off the ‘beach body’ bandwagon in January? What if we told you looking and feeling your best doesn’t take much else than a floor beneath your feet? We know (all too well) the snow makes getting to the gym challenging. Lucky for those of us trudging through snow, we’ve spotted a new trend in the fitness world: bodyweight exercise. Since launching FitnessMat, we’ve realized how effective bodyweight exercise can be. Some of the top bodybuilders in the country (like NBC’s The Biggest Looser personal trainer, Kim Lyons, who uses WellnessMats FitnessMats in her new Bionic Body Studio) are incorporating bodyweight exercise in their routine, which does not require any special equipment other than your own bodyweight.

 

Whether you live in a small apartment or a spacious house, you certainly have a body and a floor! Strength training using the weight of your own body is a great way to get an at-home (or anywhere!) workout with minimal equipment and maximum space efficiency. Here are 50 simple bodyweight techniques for starters!

 

TIP:
Consider adding a FitnessMat to your home gym (if you don’t have a home gym, simply store the mat under your bed!). Its unmatched comfort will be there to support you at all steps of your fitness journey, proven to increase circulation during workouts. Regular exercise strengthens the heart muscles and lowers high blood pressure...a sure way to swoon your heart to say “I love you” back!

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