February: Time to Think about Your Heart
Throughout the month of February, we are swarmed with decorations and candy that remind us of Cupid, love, and February 14th. While the hearts that cover Valentine’s Day merchandise are meant to represent love, they should also serve as a simple reminder for us to take care of our hearts. The next time you see one of these hearts, think about your own heart, and ask yourself if you are living a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Many risk factors of cardiovascular disease can be controlled by a living a healthy lifestyle and making wise choices every day. A pro-active approach to heart health also involves visiting your doctor to find out about your cholesterol and blood pressure.
While some risk factors of heart disease are out of our control, such as age and genetics, there are many things we can control through our everyday choices. Everyday choices include what you eat and how much you exercise. A heart-healthy diet is nutrient rich and includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low fat dairy products. It limits foods that are high in calories and low in nutrients, and also limits saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium.
It is recommended that healthy people ages 18 to 65 exercise at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. The exercise you do can be whatever you enjoy the most—swimming, jogging, gardening, walking, biking, or playing a sport—the important thing is that you are engaging in physical activity.
Finally, as part of a heart-healthy lifestyle, you should make the pledge to quit smoking or better yet, vow to never start. While many people associate smoking with lung cancer, which is true, it is also a major risk factor for heart disease. One added bonus to living a heart-healthy lifestyle is that it is also a cancer-preventative lifestyle. By exercising regularly, eating healthfully, and not smoking you will help reduce your risks of developing certain types of cancers along with greatly benefiting your heart-health.
Seeing one of cupid’s hearts should also remind you to visit your doctor and find out how your own heart may be doing. You should have your blood pressure measured to know if you have pre-hypertension or hypertension, which is high blood pressure. It is estimated that one in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure. Having hypertension or pre-hypertension can increase your risk of stroke, heart attack, heart failure, and kidney failure. While at the doctor’s office, you should also have a blood test to determine your cholesterol levels. Having high cholesterol levels may also put you at increased risk for heart disease. Knowing you have high cholesterol or blood pressure can help you and your doctor make decisions about changes you can make to help lower or decrease these numbers and lower other risk factors.
Have a happy, healthy Valentine’s Day and remember the most important heart of all!
4-H Exchange Trip
Think about your most memorable trip. What made it special? Was it the people with you, the places you visited, the road trip, or things that happened? Several of our Hopkins County 4-H members are gearing up for a 4-H Exchange Trip to Montana. Many of them have participated in previous Exchange trips to Wisconsin and Virginia. For some, this will be a trip of a lifetime.
Our former Hopkins County 4-H agent, Juli Hutchins Thurston, is employed with Montana Extension and has issued the invitation for our 4-H’ers to visit her county. The ball is rolling and the dates have been set for July 22-30, 2017. While in Montana, our group will stay in host 4-H homes. We have a good group (15) who have applied to participate, and a planning meeting has been scheduled for Monday, February 20, 5:00 p.m., at the Extension Office. Fundraisers, travel routes, lodging, and sites to see along the way will be discussed. We are open to suggestions, and gladly welcome financial support for these kids and chaperones!
Today’s mighty oak is just yesterday’s nut that held its ground – unknown