February is American Heart Month - a time to focus on preventing heart disease, the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S. At McCaffrey Homes, we're always trying to encourage healthy lifestyles, which is why many of the communities we build are near neighborhood parks and walking trails. We're pleased that the American Heart Association's Central Valley Heart Walk will be held in October at our upcoming master planned community in southeastern Madera County, Tesoro Viejo, where people can enjoy an enhanced quality of life with lots of opportunities for outdoor adventure and recreation. This is also a great time to think about how you can promote a healthy lifestyle in your own home. Here are some tips and interesting facts:
- Be more physically active. Studies show that not only does this reduce your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers by up to 50 percent, but regular exercise also increases your chance of living longer and improves your mental health and mood. If you're older, aerobic activity helps arthritis and reduces your chances of hip fractures by over 40 percent.
- Check your numbers. In addition to checking your blood pressure, get a blood test to keep track of your cholesterol and blood sugar numbers. Keep in mind that there are no symptoms for pre-diabetes, and type 2 diabetes often becomes severe before there are any warning signs. Most medical professionals recommend levels of blood pressure less than 120/80, a total cholesterol score less than 200, and a blood sugar level less than 6 percent.
- Eat more fruits and veggies. This has been show to help reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers. In addition, fruits and vegetables are naturally low in calories and provide fiber to help you feel full. Dieticians often advise people to try to replace unhealthy food with at least five servings of produce a day - and more if you can.
- Teach your kids to stay active. Most kids are naturally physically active, but often things like electronics and TV get in the way. Studies show that physically active kids are more likely to be academically motivated, alert, and successful. Most pediatricians recommend that children age 6 and older get at least an hour a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity.
- Get enough sleep. Not only does more sleep make you feel better, but it's also been found to reduce your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Medical professionals say that 7-9 hours a night is optimal for most adults.
So this month, put some heart into your home by educating your family about how to stay healthy. And have a Happy and Healthy Heart Month!