February is American Heart Month. Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in America, especially for men. The first American Heart month was declared in December, 1963, by President Lyndon Johnson and happened in February of 1964. February would seem to be a good choice because of Valentine’s Day.

So, it’s time to celebrate American Heart Month by looking after your heart. Exercise is key to heart health, although you should also consider other things like stress management and improving your diet.

So, what can you do to exercise more and keep your heart healthy?

Run Smart

Running is one of the best forms of cardio exercise, and you can challenge yourself by training for a 5k, more, or even set your goal for a marathon. However, a lot of people try to train for long distance running and do it wrong. Before starting a training program, talk to your health care provider and get the right gear, including the right shoes. You should get a gait analysis done so you can buy the perfect shoes to help you perform well and avoid injury.

If you aren’t that adventurous, walking can be surprisingly effective. Get a good set of walking shoes if you can. Hiking boots are best for rough terrain, lighter walking boots for walking in the streets, the mall, or your local park. And yes, a few laps of the mall is great if that February weather is making the idea of exercising outside less than appealing. Make sure to get running tops and shorts that are breathable and suited to your climate.

Exercise Indoors

The problem with February as American Heart Month is, yup, that February weather. For many of us, it’s tempting to hibernate and stay indoors. Running on a treadmill works for some people, but others find it boring. The same goes for other cardio machines, although rowing machines are great for working your entire body. You can also look into exercises such as high knees, burpees, and jumping jacks, all of which you can do in your living room. Just take things slowly to start with.

There’s an App for That

There’s a wonderful variety of fitness apps that you can use to vary and switch up your workout routine. They don’t quite substitute for a personal trainer, but are a lot cheaper. They’ll suggest workouts, nag you to exercise and, if you have a Garmin or similar, monitor your heart rate to make sure you’re actually giving your heart the workout it needs to get and stay healthy. Some models will monitor heart rate all day and night, such as the Garmin Elevate which utilizes wrist heart rate technology, which allows it to monitor your sleep, count your steps and calories, and give reminders if you stay stationary for too long. The built-in GPS tracks how far, fast, and where you run. Garmin also has smart notifications, live tracking, and music controls. You can choose an app that suits your lifestyle and gives you the kind of exercises you will actually keep up with and do. The worst kind of exercise is the kind you don’t want to do.

Eat Healthy

Use American Heart Month as an excuse to try heart-healthy recipes, cut down your sodium intake and maybe do something about that sugar addiction. Although we do need to eat a little bit more during the winter, most of us tend to overdo it and put on weight in January and February, despite any and all New Years’ resolutions. While you’re at it, cut out those highly caffeinated energy drinks and work towards quitting smoking.

Team Up

For accountability, there’s nothing like starting or joining an exercise club or having an exercise buddy. Or you can even disguise your exercise as something else. Join a nature walk club and you’ll get in your steps without even noticing. If walking or running isn’t for you, then look into a tennis club, adult soccer or baseball/softball club, etc. It’s almost certain that there are some clubs in your area (perhaps on Meetup) that you can find. Make sure to wear the right gear, including protective gear if you go into something a little bit more prone to contact.

If you are thinking of taking up running or another sport, visit an Omega Sports location near you for a free gait analysis to get the perfect shoes to improve your form and prevent injury. Shop Omega Sports in-stores or online for all the other gear and apparel you need to make a start on your new routine.