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National Heart Health Month by: Delani Bauer

February is National Heart Health month.

It is important to keep your heart healthy so that you can live a long and fulfilled life.  Small changes to your daily routine can help to keep your heart stronger and healthier longer.

It is recommended that you exercise at least 30 minutes a day.  By partaking in physical activity, you are increasing your cardiovascular endurance and strengthening the heart muscle itself.  As busy college students, it can be hard to set aside time for exercise. You should find a routine or activity that you find fun.  If you make exercising fun, then you will be more apt to do it and will look forward to a routine.

Exercising with a friend keeps you accountable and encourages you to push yourself.  You and your friends can find fun activities to do around Abilene, such as going on a walk, hike or swim.  Hardin-Simmons University has a variety of fun intramural sports that will keep you active and provide you with a community of students to work out with. 

The more that you exercise, the more blood your heart can pump into your lungs and muscles.  This causes an increase in oxygen levels to your blood and creates an overall healthier heart.  Just a few minutes of exercise a day can make a huge difference.

Eating healthy is also an important part of heart health.  When the food you consume is good for you, you are lowering your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. This gives your body the fuel that it needs to function properly.  Healthy eating may vary for everyone.  You should include fruits, vegetables and whole grains into your daily diet and avoid overprocessed foods.  Healthy eating is about consistency.  Sticking to a healthy diet can lower your cholesterol levels and increase blood flow to your arteries.

Managing your stress can lower your blood pressure and reduce your heart rate.  College can be stressful, but there are several useful strategies that you can employ.  Using a planner is a great way to stay organized and on top of your assignments.  Not procrastinating will greatly reduce your stress and blood pressure levels.  

When stress is unavoidable, try breathing exercises to help lower your heart rate and blood pressure.  You can enter a state of relaxation through taking several deep breaths.  Next time school causes you stress, take a deep breath and remember that it will be okay.  Your heart will thank you later.

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