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Make American Heart Month a Family Affair

One in four Americans die of heart disease each year. The good news is that it's preventable! Mighty Mommy has 4 ways to make heart health a priority in your family.

By
Cheryl Butler,
Family holding heart.

February is a month that has a lot of heart. While Valentine’s Day seems to monopolize the calendar, there’s another important event that is also heart-centric, but this one isn’t promoted by Hallmark.

In 1963, President Lyndon B. Johnson designated February as American Heart Month, declaring that “over one-half of the 10 million Americans afflicted by the cardiovascular diseases are stricken during their most productive years, thereby causing a staggering physical and economic loss to the nation.”

Today, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, with one of four deaths attributed to it each year. While these statistics are still high, the American Heart Association (AHA) is heartened that this devastating disease can be prevented with healthy life choices.

In order to bring more awareness to heart disease the AHA encourages families to work together and shift their lifestyles in a more positive direction in order to make good heart-health a priority.

Make this American Heart Month a family affair with these fun and healthy tips: 

  1. Talk it Up. Spend some time chatting about American Heart Month with your loved ones. Many schools now have events like Hoops for Heart to raise awareness and money for the AHA. Keep the conversation age-appropriate but emphasize how important it is for everyone to take good care of their hearts by eating well, exercising, and finding hobbies and outlets that can reduce stress. A great book to read to younger kids is Your Amazing Heart, by Dr. Edwin Lee. The information and illustrations allow for great conversation following the story.  If you have older kids and have any family members or close friends afflicted by heart disease, you can reference these individuals and what they’re doing to care for their health to bring the topic closer to home.
  2. Enjoy the Great Outdoors. With the immense importance of electronics in our lives, heading outside to explore or enjoy nature is not a priority. Use American Hearth Month as the catalyst for getting back to basics and taking a brisk stroll through the neighborhood or pull those bikes out of the shed and cycle to the park. Find activities that will combine physical exercise and lots of fresh air. (And leave the devices at home.)
  3. Bake Heart-Healthy. There is no shortage of delicious, low-fat, and reduced sugar recipes to entice your family with. If you have family members who love to spend time in the kitchen and bake, select some healthy alternatives to your usual high calorie, fat-laden favorites and spend some quality time together. The Nutrition Diva, Monica Reinagel, has some Smart Substitutions to Make Baked Goods More Nutritious as well as some delicious, low-fat cookie recipes.
  4. Laugh it Up. A family that laughs together, stays healthy together! According to the American Heart Association, research has suggested that laughing reduces stress hormones and artery inflammation, and increases the “good” cholesterol, HDL. Laughter’s effects can last up to 24 hours and promote a positive outlook on life. Find funny movies to watch together, take advantage of silly moments that happen throughout the week, just try to lighten up and enjoy one another—it could be just what the doctor ordered!

How do you bring awareness to better heart health with your family?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section at quickanddirtytips.com/mighty-mommy, post your ideas on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. or email me at mommy@quickanddirtytips.com

For more ideas visit Mighty Mommy at quickanddirtytips.com.

Family heart image courtesy of Shutterstock.        

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