Thoughts of February will no doubt invoke visions of cupid, chocolate and hearts.
So perhaps it’s not a coincidence the Heart and Stroke Foundation chose this month for their annual heart month campaign. Valentine’s Day is great and all, but it’s also a great opportunity to remind Canadians of the importance of their heart health.
In that spirit, the Heart and Stroke Foundation will be carrying out the annual door-to-door campaign in neighbours across the region, including Prince Edward County. Collecting funds for research is an important part of the door-to-door campaign, but so too is the information they hand out to anyone willing to take it.
According to the Heart and Stroke website, heart disease affects 1.3 million Canadians and Health Canada indicates that its the second leading cause of death in this country.
But by adopting a few healthy habits, Canadians can delay the onset of heart or stroke disease by up to 14 years. That Heart and Stroke website notes nine in 10 Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart and stroke.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that almost 80 per cent of premature heart and stroke disease can be prevented through methods such as healthy eating, being active and smoke free. Forget the flowers and chocolate, what better way to show someone you care this Valentine’s Day by committing to living a healthier life?
Then again, the month of February can also invoke thoughts of ice, snow and cold as the winter drags on.
Despite what the groundhog says, we’re still several days away from the warm sunshine and long days of spring and summer.
Therein lies a common problem for Canadians-staying active in the winter months. Getting outside can be a challenge at times. Braving the cold for something as simple as a brisk walk can make a huge difference as it not only gets people active, but walks are proven to help reduce stress, which is another factor linked to heart health.
The shorter days and cold weather has also been proven to take a toll on mental health, which is linked to overall health.
It can require a bit of creativity at times, but the Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week.
Perhaps a bit easier than staying active throughout the winter is a commitment to eating healthy. Heart and Stroke Foundation offers tips such as preparing meals at home from scratch to reduce the use of processed foods, making healthy choices at the grocery store by planning ahead and limiting snacks to healthy options such as fruits or vegetables. For those looking to get creative, the Heart and Stroke Foundation offers several healthy recipes on the website.
Remember, few simple changes can add up to some great long term health benefits and a healthy life is the greatest gift you can give to yourself and your family.
-Adam Prudhomme is the editor of the Napanee Beaver