Red and pink hearts displayed in stores starting in January (or earlier) remind us that February is noted for Valentine’s Day, but this month is also known for American Heart Month.  

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, about 17,060,000 people living in the United States suffer from heart disease.  Taking care of our hearts is something we should think about not just in February, but every day. 

One way to help keep our hearts healthy is by being active.  We need at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five days a week, and muscle strengthening exercises at least two days a week.  Even 10 minutes of exercise multiple times a day benefits heart health. 

As part of The Sumner County Health Committee, we invite you to get active!  Join us in celebrating American Heart Month by being a part of our Heart Health Hike at Bledsoe Creek Start Park on Feb. 20, at 1:30 p.m. (weather permitting - rain date Feb. 27).  We will meet at the Visitor’s Center and enjoy lake views while walking on paved trails.  Please contact Jenny Biggs at the Sumner County UT Extension Office, 615-452-1423, with questions about the hike.

Walking is one way to be active while at the same time reducing stress.  Reducing stress and improving our quality of sleep can help lower blood pressure.  Being outdoors helps many people relieve stress.  What works for you?  Meditation, relaxation therapy, talking with a trusted friend or family member?  Turn to healthy stress relievers to aid in your heart health.  

Eating healthy foods is also important for heart health.  Incorporating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy proteins, fat free and low fat dairy products, as well as limiting foods high in saturated fat, sodium, and sugar aids in preventing heart disease.  If you would like to learn more about making healthier eating choices, check out UT Extension’s “Healthy Families Healthy Communities” website at https://healthyfamilies.tennessee.edu/.

Physical activity, reducing stress, and making healthy food choices help improve heart health.  Thanks to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute for providing much of the information used above.  If you would like to learn more about keeping your heart healthy, check out their website at https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/education-and-awareness/heart-month.

Thanks to you for reading this article, and Happy American Heart Month!  We hope you will join the Sumner County Health Committee for our Heart Health Hike at Bledsoe Creek State Park!

Jenny Biggs leads the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program at the  UT Extension-Sumner County, 615-452-1423, 658 Hartsville Pike, Gallatin, TN  37066, https://extension.tennessee.edu/Sumner/Pages/Staff.aspx

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