Break, burst, swell, sink.

Race, fill, soar.

Our hearts do a lot for us.

What are we doing for our hearts?

This week you have most likely been busy planning dates and buying flowers and chocolate (or planning nights in and buying ice cream and sweatpants), so how about taking a few minutes to love on your heart?

Here are five things that show your ticker how much you care!

Keep active. Just a small increase in your activity levels can make a big difference to your heart. Remember easy does it at first. Get started by walking more. If you sit for your job, set a timer and get up every hour to stroll to the end of the hallway. At the store, park farther away. At home give into your dog's puppy eyes. Whatever you do, make sure you get your heart pumping a little faster than normal. Soon you will be able to do more!

Lower your stress. A long day of work, screaming kids, blasting TV, it's no wonder it sometimes feels like we can never unwind. Search out a bit of quiet in everyday, such as taking a bath or listen to some soothing music. If no little steps seem to work, it may be time to start looking for some more drastic changes. In the long run, nothing is as important as good health.

Eat lean. High fiber, low-fat diets go a long way to keep your heart going strong. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and get your carbs through whole-wheat sources. More than anything think: moderation. Making the right choices most of the time, with a few splurges now and then, allows you to be flexible when eating and having fun. And that is good for the heart and soul.

Stop smoking. If you don't smoke, great. If you do, we know how hard it can be to quit. There is help all around from support groups to OTC medications to prescriptions. Talk with your doctor about which options are best for you. Helping your heart is just the beginning of the life changing benefits that quitting smoking brings.

Know your numbers. A healthy lifestyle goes a long way in helping your heart. But maybe the single most important thing you can do for your health is to know your numbers. Get a regular physical that includes talking about your family history, your lifestyle and other factors that influence heart health. Also, if a recent lipid profile has not been completed, you can request this blood test from your physician. This test helps your doctor understand your unique risks and better direct your future heart and health needs.

Valentine's Day is a great time to spend with those you love (even if that person is yourself).

Love your heart and it will love you back.

October 28, 2017
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