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February is about more than heart-shaped candies and sappy love notes. It’s definitely about those too, but it’s also about American Heart Month. And with our partner the American Heart Association, we want to help you make the most of it.

You may give your heart to someone this Valentine’s Day, but we want to make sure you’re giving it attention throughout the year. Did you know heart disease is still one of the leading causes of death in America, more than all forms of cancer combined? There are more people affected by heart attacks each year than there are people in Dallas, Texas.

Not quite the energy you were probably expecting from the Caliber Collision blog, but it needed to be said. The purpose of American Heart Month is to raise awareness about heart disease and ways to improve your heart health. Below we’ll share some things you can do in and outside of your car to reduce your risk of heart disease and stay heart healthy.

  1. Eat Well
    A healthy lifestyle starts with healthy choices. Every kid knows you are what you eat, so for your next drive-thru dinner, consider the greener options on the menu. Whether you’re grabbing a bite in your car, or cooking something at home, try adding more color to your meal with fruits and veggies. Avoid indulging your sweet tooth and products with added sugar. Exercise good judgement and moderation. You don’t have to completely change your lifestyle overnight. Small steps can make a large difference, you just have to start.

  2. Stay Active
    A big part of a healthy lifestyle is staying active. Walking, running, biking, swimming—if it’s an activity you enjoy, odds are it can help you reduce your risk of heart disease. Try to build up to 30 minutes of sustained activity most days of the week. Remember to track your progress, but don’t be too hard on yourself. Maybe next week, leave the car in the garage and bike to work or walk to lunch.

  3. Lower Stress
    “Just relax.” If only it were that easy. Digestion problems, anxiety, depression, sleep problems, weight gain, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke — negative stress can do a lot of things to your body, none of them good. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it. Go outside, go for a quiet drive, take a walk, take a breath, create something, laugh, sleep, be positive. Don’t spend any more time worrying about traffic, road construction, or that super annoying tailgater than you need to.

  4. Get Checked Regularly
    When it comes to reducing the risk of heart attack or stroke, do it by the numbers. Check and control blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Check and treat high blood pressure. And remember to schedule regular checkups with your physician. Regular monitoring of these three things can help you and your doctor make lifestyle and medical changes before more serious issues arise.

  5. Sleep
    Easy, right? According to the National Sleep Foundation, getting a good night’s rest can lower your risk of heart disease. Who knew beauty sleep was healthy sleep too?

  6. Don’t Smoke
    Smoking is bad for your health. But it’s also bad for your heart. If you didn’t know that before, now you do. So, you know…don’t.

There you have it. Some simple and some not so simple ways to reduce your risk of heart disease and stay heart healthy. Visit heart.org to learn more about the American Heart Association, American Heart Month, and heart health iniatives that will help you enjoy many more Valentine’s Days to come. We’re proud to partner with the American Heart Association because like them, our mission has always been Restoring the Rhythm of Your Life®.