We are celebrating February Heart Month in concert with the U-M Frankel Cardiovascular Center. Each dollar that you donate to the Project Healthy Schools Fund through the #UMHealthyHearts portal will be matched 1:1 by donor Gary Andersen (so your contribution impact will automatically double). Please help us fundraise as much as possible with this incredible matching gift opportunity. The attached document showcases the impact your dollars (plus the matching dollars) can do for the network of 150+ middle schools we support throughout the state of Michigan. Now is the perfect time to provide a donation so PHS can support the physical health and mental health needs of our students and teachers. Please share this email with any contacts you may have that would be willing to donate to our important cause. To donate, please visit the #UMHealthyHearts portal. Click on Donate Now, choose the “UMH Project Healthy Schools” fund, enter your donation amount, and click Donate Now.

Love Your Heart

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Many of these deaths and risk factors are preventable. The following health behaviors can dramatically improve your heart health:

Make Healthy Food Choices – Eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods from all 5 food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, dairy). Americans do not consume enough fiber, potassium, calcium, and vitamin D. Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables at every meal and snack and enjoy the added flavors, textures, and colors they add to your food. Add more healthy fats (avocados, nuts, olive oil, fish) to your meals to help boost flavor, satiety, and vitamin absorption. Enjoy increased hydration by drinking more water. Add chopped up fruits (kiwi, watermelon, oranges, lemons, limes) to your water to add flavor in a healthy way. Be creative, have fun, and enjoy cooking and eating healthy foods with others!

Be Physically Active – Regular, moderate physical activity lowers blood pressure and helps your body control stress and weight. Be physically active in your own way and do activities that you enjoy (walking, hiking, jogging, running, bicycling, dancing, yoga, swimming, sports). All movement adds up over the course of the day. How can you add variety to your everyday movement? Start small and gradually add time and intensity to further strengthen your muscles and cardiovascular system. Seek support and guidance from a professional if needed to help begin your physical activity journey. Have fun, be creative, and invite friends and family to join you!

Manage Stress – Life can be challenging for everyone. Everyday stress can add up over time and put excess strain on the heart. Removing all stress from your life is not the goal, but learning how to manage your stress, as well as lowering its severity, can vastly improve your overall mental health. Eating healthy foods and increasing your physical activity will automatically help reduce your stress levels. Add in additional behaviors like deep breathing, meditation, yoga, sitting or standing stretches, and making a gratitude journal, will take your stress management toolbox to the next level! Don’t forget about the power of building community around you. Reach out to friends and family to create strong social connections. We as humans thrive when supported and surrounded by others who care about us. You can also surround yourself with the great outdoors and nature, as well as the comfort of pets and animals, to help connect you to both yourself and the surrounding environment!

Remove Tobacco Products – Tobacco products increase our risk for heart disease. Don’t smoke or use vaping products. Consult with a professional if you need support in quitting. Replace this behavior with the healthy behaviors listed above to keep your mind and body occupied. Reach out for the support of your family and friends as you move toward a tobacco-free lifestyle!

Lastly, please feel free to attend the virtual events offered on the Frankel CVC Heart Month page. These workshops will discuss healthy eating, physical activity, mental health, substance abuse, and focus on how our health behaviors directly impact our heart health.

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