02/19/2016 02:56 EST | Updated 02/19/2017 05:12 EST

Show Your Heart A Little Love

Shutterstock / Africa Studio

February is Heart Month. Let's show our hearts a little love. Do something healthy for your heart.

Why it matters

  • Each year more than 350,000 Canadians are hospitalized for heart disease or stroke
  • Up to 80% of premature heart disease and stroke is preventable by adopting healthy behaviours
  • Nine in ten Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart disease and stroke

Source: Heart & Stroke Foundation 

Take a pledge for heart health

Pledge to quit smoking

If you smoke, make a plan to quit. Within months, quitting smoking reduces your risk of a heart attack, improves breathing and helps circulation. After a year of quitting, your risk of heart disease and smoking-related heart attack is cut in half. Start by making a quit plan. Need help? Check out or talk to your health-care provider.

Pledge to cut down on sugar

The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests we try to keep our sugar intake to less than 6 teaspoons a day (not including naturally occurring sugars, like in fruits). Eating too much sugar has been linked to cardiovascular disease and other health issues. Do you put two sugars in your tea? Try cutting back to one. (Even better, none!) Keep an eye out for hidden sugars. Cereals, yogurts, salad dressings and sauces can often have a wild amount of added sugar. Choose these items with less sugar (or use less dressing when tossing your greens!)

Pledge to take electronics out of the bedroom

To improve your sleep quality, make your bedroom a no-phone zone. Leave phones, TVs, tablets or other things with bright screens out in the living room. Actually, studies show that avoiding these devices one hour before bedtime can improve your sleep quality, leaving you better able to make healthy choices the next day.

Pledge to add an extra veggie to each lunch

Cut up some celery sticks to eat with your sandwich, or add broccoli to your pizza. Sneaking an extra vegetable in at lunchtime can help you reach Canada's Food Guide recommended servings of vegetables/fruits (7-8 for adult women, 8-10 for men). Eating the recommended amount of vegetables can help reduce your risk of many chronic diseases.

Pledge to eat at least one meatless meal each week

Have one vegetarian meal each week that includes legumes like beans, chickpeas or lentils. Legumes are packed with protein and fibre, and are lower in saturated fats than most meats. Eating more legumes can help manage diabetes and improve cholesterol levels. Need inspiration? Try this three-bean chili.

Pledge to add three 10-minute chunks of activity to each day

We know you've heard this one: adding daily activity to your lifestyle has many health benefits. But remember, daily activity doesn't mean you have to spend hours at the gym. Try to add three 10-minute chunks of medium activity. Park farther away from the doors and briskly walk, get off the bus a stop early, have a walking meeting or take the stairs. Check out Canada's Physical Activity Guidelines for more ideas.

Pledge to take the stairs more often

Did you know climbing stairs for 1 minutes burns 8 - 11 calories? That's high compared to other moderate intensity exercise. Choosing the stairs over an elevator or escalator can help you achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, which is important in reducing your risk of heart disease (and it's great for your bone and joints, too!)

Pledge to do something heart healthy

What do you want to do to love your heart? Cut down on alcohol? Train for that couch-to-5K? Walk to school once a week with your kids? Make a pledge and share it with your family and friends so they can support you in your effort.

Take the #HeartPledge now!

More heart health resources

Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook


Great Foods For Heart Health