This month is a double whammy for all things relating to the heart. Between Valentine’s Day and February being “Heart Health” month, it’s the perfect time to give your heart the attention it deserves.
Why not shake things up a bit and plan a date with heart health in mind? It’s all too easy to fall into a date-night rut – like rotating through the same few dinner spots time and time again. Today could be an opportunity to try something you wouldn’t normally consider.
We put together a list of a few heart-healthy date ideas to get you started. These ideas require very little planning and there’s something for every budget. And if you’re feeling extra adventurous, try combining a few options and make the whole day heart healthy.
Take a dance class From ballroom dancing to belly dancing, this is one date that’s both romantic and heart healthy. What’s great about taking a dance class is the way your heart rate will rise and fall as you’re learning the steps. There’s a period of downtime as you slowly walk through each step, followed by a period of higher intensity as you put the steps to music. This back and forth is a great way to strengthen your heart.
Dancing can improve brain function too. Studies have shown regular dancing can improve memory – especially in a class setting where you learn a new routine regularly. And because it oftentimes involves elongated movements, dancing can also improve balance and coordination.
Go for a hike or indoor rock climbing If you and your date are lovers of nature, why not go for a hike? If the weather is a bit too brisk in your neck of the woods, try looking into indoor rock climbing. Both activities are great ways to get the heart pumping and the blood flowing. The great thing about this type of activity is the added element of an incline. Even if your hike or climb is more at the beginner level, walking up an incline will cause your heart rate to increase, giving you a great cardio (and leg) workout.
Farmers market inspired meal This time of year isn’t ideal for hitting the local farmers markets, but don’t let that stop you from cooking up a great farmers-market-inspired dinner, full of fresh vegetables.
Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to get a little adventurous and try a recipe that isn’t one of your staples. A great place to start is with a salmon dish. Salmon is full of omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your heart and your brain. Salmon is low in mercury and can be cooked in so many different ways that you’re bound to find a recipe you’ll love.
Keep in mind, to stay as heart healthy as possible, you’ll want to avoid lots of butter and salt. Instead, use fresh herbs and spices to add a flavor punch. And feel free to crack open a bottle of red wine with some dark chocolate for dessert – just don’t overdo it!
Ice Skating/Roller skating If you live in an area that’s covered in snow and ice, embrace your winter wonderland and go ice skating. If your hometown is ice-less, get a similar sentiment from visiting a roller rink. Both ice skating and roller skating are aerobic workouts, which will get your heart pumping.
On top of a great cardio workout, your muscles will be engaged too as they work to keep you balanced and moving forward. Expect your quads, calves, and even your core to all be a bit sore the next day.
Get a couple’s massage In case you needed an excuse to get a massage, “heart health” is a great one. Studies have shown that not only can massages reduce stress levels, they may be able to help improve cardiovascular function overall. One study observed 263 participants with each person received a massage lasting 45 to 60 minutes. After the massage, their blood pressure was read. The average result was a drop in blood pressure and a reduction of 10 heartbeats per minute.
While this effect is still being researched, other studies have shown similar results. So, treat you and your Valentine to a couple’s massage and feel good about helping your heart.
Don’t forget to make heart health a priority all year long. A healthy diet, regular exercise, and effective stress management are the staples to heart – and brain – health.
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