We usually think of February as the month of hearts for Valentine’s Day.
But February is also heart-health awareness month in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and other countries. It’s observed to raise awareness and to help people lose weight, eat better, invigorate their exercise routines, and more.
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer, responsible for 1 in every 4 deaths and 735,000 heart attacks annually just in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control. Globally, cardiovascular diseases kill 18 million people a year, says the World Health Organization.
The good news: Heart disease can be prevented. Exercise and eating right are the top tools to improve our heart health and lower our risk for heart disease and heart attacks, says 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.
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.
Online, there’s an ongoing discussion on social media using the hashtag #OurHearts. And there are tons of resources online from organizations such as the National Institutes of Health, which offers this “Heart Smart Basics: What to Know to Keep Yours Healthy” and more.