Love Your Heart This Valentine’s Day

Nurses and Heart HealthBy Mary Ellen Humphreys, ARRT

Methodist Charlton Medical Center

February is typically seen as the season of love, romance, flowers, and heart boxes filled with chocolate. In fact, 58 million pounds of chocolate will be purchased this Valentine’s week. That’s a lot of calories and cholesterol!

February is also American Heart Month, and one of the best ways you can show your Valentines you love them is by keeping your heart -- and theirs -- healthy.

Exercise. Staying active is essential to maintaining a healthy heart. If you’re not currently active and unsure where to start, take advantage of your profession and tap into your hospital’s resources. The Fit Zone at Methodist Charlton Medical Center and the Folsom Fitness Center at Methodist Dallas Medical Center, for instance, offer assessment tests and classes taught by fitness instructors. Find the class that’s right for you from a low-impact Senior Aerobics class and Tai Chi to the Latin moves with

Zumba® and Pilates (visit You can even sign up for a one-month membership, utilizing payroll deductions. If these aren’t provided where you work, consider joining an outside gym and working out or utilizing personal trainers and dieticians. The important thing is to just start moving.

Not quite ready for a gym? Consider walking. Even a simple walk on hospital grounds during your break or taking the stairs instead of an elevator can improve your health. At Methodist Charlton Medical Center, two 30-minute walking classes are offered every day. What’s more, a walking trail is marked inside the hospital, so you can take a healthy break come rain or shine.

Eat healthy. A heart-healthy diet doesn’t have to be tasteless or boring, and it’s easy to start with a few simple modifications to your current diet. Try to eat less red meat, limit fried foods, and cut down on high fat foods. Aim to include healthier fats like those found in avocados and nuts, and add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. When you need a treat, reach for a small piece of dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. It will satisfy your sweet tooth and has heart-healthy benefits to boot.

Know your cholesterol level. Have your cholesterol checked at least once a year, and check your blood pressure regularly. These numbers can be indicators of impending problems, so don’t ignore them as warning signs.

Don’t smoke. With all of the negative side effects that smoking has on health, this should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway. If you’re still smoking, quit now. Find out which smoking cessation programs your hospital offers, sign up, and kick the habit for good. Your sweetheart and your heart will thank you.

As clinicians, we lead by example daily in our profession. This Valentine’s Day, take the opportunity to show your loved ones you care by taking steps to protect and maintain the health of your heart.

To see why Methodist Health System is a brilliant choice for your career, please visit


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