February is known as National Heart month and that’s not just a reference to Valentine’s Day. So this year don’t just give candy hearts and chocolates to your sweethearts. Encourage them to take care of their heart organ. And while you are at it, remind yourself how extremely important heart health is.

Start a new tradition this Valentine’s Day and choose healthier food options and vow to move more and sit less. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Instead of going out to a restaurant dinner and indulging on way too huge of portions, try a romantic dinner at home. Check the thousands of healthy recipe sources on the Internet and plan out a totally new meal that you have never tried before.

If you don’t have time or just don’t want to eat at home, check locally for a culinary center. Many offer fun date night and family cooking classes which usually include healthier food options.

Instead of choosing high-fat, high calorie desert options that can rack up as many as a 1,000 calories alone, consider a lighter fruit option which can be just as sweet. One example that is quintessential Valentine’s Day – fresh strawberries drizzled with chocolate.

Enjoy a glass of red wine. Many studies have touted the heart health benefits of this romantic beverage.

Don’t forget to move on Valentine’s Day. Ice skating is a fun and romantic outing, especially if you are lucky enough to enjoy an outdoor rink. Live by the beach? How about a stroll at sunset on the beach? If the weather permits, try a bike ride to a park for a picnic.

Remember that you and your loved ones must take care of your hearts 365 days per year. Both diet and physical fitness are vital to assuring your heart health. Consider this: according to a Mayo clinic cardiologist, people who spend most of their day sitting have a heart attack risk as high as those who smoke. So just getting off your behind and standing can help you improve heart health.

Take that standing just a bit further by adding in a 10-minute brisk walk each day and you could reduce your heart attack risk by 50% over a year, according to Mayo Clinic researchers.

Fitness is one piece of the heart health puzzle. Another vital component is your diet. Here are five simple steps to a healthier heart:

  1. Eat a diet rich in fiber, fruits, and vegetables.
  2. Limit your saturated fat, trans fat, and the cholesterol intake.
  3. Keep your sodium consumption in check.
  4. Eat fish at least two times per week.
  5. Choose low-fat dairy products.

Keep these heart healthy diet and fitness tips in mind not just during the February National Heart Month, but every day of the year. Take time on Valentine’s Day to share these tips with all your loved ones. What ideas do you have for a healthier Valentine's Day celebration?

Copyright 2014 Lynn Bode