Valentine’s Day might be over, but February is seen as the month for love. While you may have that one person that you poured all your love into on the 14th, let’s not forget the person you need to love most, above all else…yourself. Do this by showing love for your health, specifically your heart!

February is American Heart Month. While Americans might see the heart as the symbol for February, it should be a reminder to show a little love to yourself by making better, heart healthy decisions. Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is the #1 killer in the U.S. Many CVD deaths could have been prevented through healthier habits, healthier living spaces, and better management of conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.

Surprisingly, you control a number of risk factors for CVD, which include diet, physical activity, tobacco use, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Empower yourself to live happier, healthier lives by taking control of all these decisions. Remember, you have the power to do this.

Here are some tips if you are trying to improve your cardiovascular health:

  • Try not to become overwhelmed. Every step brings you closer to a healthier heart, and every healthy choice makes a difference!
  • Partner up. The journey is more fun – and often more successful – when you have company. Ask friends and family to join you.
  • Don’t get discouraged. You may not be able to take all of the steps at one time. Get a good night’s sleep – also important for a healthy heart – and do what you can tomorrow.
  • Reward yourself. Find fun things to do to decrease your stress. Round up some colleagues for a lunchtime walk, join a singing group, or have a healthy dinner with your family or friends.

While all of the above tips are great steps to love yourself and your heart a little more, be sure to include an annual visit to your family doctor for a checkup. A large percentage of Americans do not know where their health stands, and doctor visits are a foreign concept. This is a new year; let’s start this year together on the right foot!