Heart and Vascular Health Take the 7-Day Heart Health Challenge By Heart and Vascular Institute, February 1, 2018 February is American Heart Month. In honor of this important event, UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute challenges you to dedicate one week to improving your heart health. Join us for the 7-Day Heart Health Challenge. One Week to Better Heart Health: Take Our Challenge Day 1: Make a plan Create a list of realistic and obtainable goals for your fitness and overall health. Here are a few examples: Go for a 30-minute walk, four days a week. Quit smoking and cut back on drinking Consider joining a gym or signing up for fitness classes Meet with a registered dietitian to discuss your eating habits and learn how to improve them Day 2: Educate yourself Day two is all about knowledge. Take time to read about heart disease or the symptoms of heart attacks in men and women. Education is the first step toward managing your heart health. Day 3: Know your numbers Undergo a heart screening to learn these five key heart health numbers: Body mass index Blood glucose Blood pressure Total cholesterol level High-density lipoprotein Learn more about heart screenings at UPMC. Day 4: Get up and move The American Heart Association recommends adults engage in 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes weekly of vigorous aerobic activity. Moderate intensity aerobic activity should be spread out over 30-minute increments five days a week and can include activities such as: Water aerobics Casual bicycling (a pace of slower than 10 miles per hour) Ballroom dancing General gardening Day 5: De-stress hour heart Stress can take a major toll on your overall health. Chronic stress can lead to conditions such as high blood pressure and cholesterol — not to mention of unhealthy habits, such as overeating and excessive drinking. Here are some simple ways to cut back on stress: Socialize with others Engage in exercise Make sure you get a full eight hours of sleep each night Do some deep breathing Day 6: Swap out the junk Do a deep dive into your fridge and pantry and rewrite your grocery list to ensure you’re eating healthy foods. Try to avoid or limit your intake of: Saturated fat Trans fat Sodium Red meat Sweets Sugar-sweetened beverages Need a simple, heart-healthy snack to get started? Try this almond snack mix recipe. Day 7: Become a heart health advocate You’ve met the challenge and now you’re ready to become a heart health advocate. As a heart health advocate, you should commit to continue with a healthy lifestyle. You should also encourage others to improve their heart health. For example, talk to family members about getting screened for heart disease. Take a friend along on your daily walk. Share your experiences and be a positive example.