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7 Ways to Protect Your Heart Health

Every February, we honor American Heart Month, but what is the significance of bringing awareness to this cause? Heart disease kills more people in the US than any other illness, accident, or condition. Continued attention is necessary to educate the public about what you can do to protect your heart health. 

Lake Region Insurance Agency knows the importance of protection in all areas. We assist clients with insurance options for health, life, home, and auto. Affordable and comprehensive health insurance is one of the key pieces of personal wellness, so reach out to us for a quote. 

Protect Your Heart Health Every Day

Cardiovascular disease claims a life in the United States every 36 seconds. But this devastating number can change for the better when we establish new, healthier habits. To help you live your healthiest life, consider these seven ways you can protect your heart health. 

1. Move At Least 30-60 Minutes Each Day

A woman power walking for heart health.
For many with busy lives, spending two hours at the gym is unrealistic. However, the goal is to have 150 minutes of aerobic activity every week. You can break this down to best fit your schedule, aiming for 30 minutes of brisk physical activity a day. This level of activity includes a fast walk or bike ride.

Even short bursts of exercise broken up throughout the day are sufficient to meet the goal. Also, to help with bone health and muscle strength, remember to include two sessions of strength exercise every week. Regular strength training over time will help to maintain normal blood pressure. 

If you are active and participate in vigorous aerobic activity such as running, you can see heart benefits if you reach 75 minutes each week. Consider adding a yoga practice for the added stress reduction benefits that will also help to protect your heart health. 

2. Please Quit Smoking

The best health change you can make to protect your heart health is to quit smoking. Avoiding secondhand smoke is also critical to keeping your heart, lungs, and entire body healthy.

Smoking reduces the oxygen in your blood, increasing your heart rate and blood pressure. These effects make it harder for the heart to do its job. The great news is the heart can recover. One year after quitting smoking, your risk of heart disease drops to half of that of a smoker. 

3. Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet

Healthy fruits and vegetables in a heart shaped bowl.
Your food choices play a tremendous role in protecting your heart health. Foods such as fruits, vegetables, and legumes all have heart-protection benefits. Beans, peas, and other legumes help lower your bad cholesterol thanks to their high fiber content. 

Eating less red meat is another way to protect your heart. Make it easy by choosing poultry or fish options a few times a week. If you are ready to explore vegetarian food, there are plenty of meat substitutes now available. You can still enjoy great flavors without red meat.

Avoid processed foods and focus on fresh produce in your food choices. You can reduce your heart disease risk by adding just one serving each of fruits and vegetables into your diet. 

4. Get Sufficient Sleep

Sleep has many health benefits:

  • Mental Health Support
  • Healthy Weight Maintenance
  • Cancer Prevention
  • Lower Blood Pressure
  • Lower Cholesterol

For the best heart health, strive for 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Establish a regular sleep schedule by waking up and going to bed at the same time daily. Avoid screens for at least an hour before you want to sleep. Keep your bedroom dark and cool to promote a restful night.

If you are worried about sleep apnea, be sure to seek a medical evaluation. Sleep apnea can significantly increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. The common signs include loud snoring, breaks in breathing during sleep, or waking up feeling the need to gasp for air. You can manage sleep apnea with a CPAP device that keeps the airways open while you sleep. 

5. Find a Way to Manage Your Stress

A woman meditating for heart health.
Stress management is one of the most important things you can do to protect your heart health. We can’t control all of the things that cause stress. But we can learn how to respond to them in a healthy way. Avoid coping with stress through unhealthy habits such as drinking alcohol, smoking, or overeating. 

Find healthy alternatives to stress management, such as exercise and yoga. Or establish a meditation routine through the use of an app or website. Hobbies such as reading, journaling, cooking, or creating art are helpful, too. 

6. Go to Your Doctor Regularly

Don’t skip your yearly physical with your doctor, and be sure to talk to them if you have concerns about heart disease. Take time to learn about any family history of heart disease and share this information with your physician. 

As part of your exam, your doctor should check for high blood pressure and cholesterol since both contribute to heart disease. These conditions are manageable with lifestyle adjustments and appropriate medication.

You may also want to discuss a weight management program with your physician to keep your BMI in an ideal range. Your doctor may suggest a cardiac diet or creative ways to include exercise into your daily life to help get you to a healthy weight.

7. Treat Yourself to Some Chocolate 

A woman eating dark chocolate for the heart health benefits and smiling.
If you feel like you need a lot of restrictions to protect your heart health, hang on. There is also chocolate. 

Dark chocolate that is at least 70% cacao can lower your risk of a heart attack or stroke in reasonable amounts. A bite or two a day is plenty to reap the benefits. Overindulging will create the opposite effect. 

Chocolate may dilate the blood vessels to prevent plaque build-up in the arteries. And it has antioxidants to help fight inflammation in the heart and throughout the body. So don’t worry about treating yourself to the right, heart-healthy dessert a few days a week. 

Where Can I Get More Information on Health and Life Insurance? 

Paper cut outs of a family being held safely in someone's hands.
Whether you need health insurance or other coverage, Lake Region Insurance Agency can help you find the right plan. We are a team of independent agents with three locations to serve Greater Minnesota. 

Contact us or stop by our offices in Willmar, Cokato, or New London, MN, to discuss how we can help you today.

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A Guide to Buying Life Insurance for Kids

It is uncomfortable to think about life insurance coverage for children. However, parents should be aware of why it is a wise choice. Purchasing life insurance for kids offers financial benefits that will serve children as they grow. 

If you are considering purchasing life insurance, work with a trusted agent. At Lake Region Insurance Agency, we offer a wide range of policy options to meet your needs. Call or visit our offices in Cokato, New London, and Willmar, MN, to get started.

We are proud to serve our clients in Greater Minnesota as independent agents. We can help you with all of your insurance needs, including life insurance for children.  

What Is Life Insurance for Kids?

A young family sitting on their couch and reading books to their young children.
Parents, grandparents, and other relatives often purchase children’s life insurance to protect a child’s financial future. There are significant benefits to getting a policy in place early in a child’s life.

Individual life insurance for kids comes as a whole life policy. It is a permanent plan that can stay in place throughout their life, rather than only for a set term. It also has a cash value that typically grows over time.

A whole life policy has a set cost, such as $50,000. And it has a specified number of years to pay for the plan. The longer you stretch the payments, the lower the monthly premium. Some parents or grandparents choose to have a short payment time. This smaller window makes for higher premiums, but the owner can give the child a paid-off policy once he or she becomes an adult.

Adults can purchase the policies for children through an agent. And as the policy’s owner, they can transfer it to the child at any time.

A second option for parents who want life insurance for their children is to add a rider to their own policy. That is, if you, as the parent, have a term life insurance plan, you can ask your agent to add your kids to it. 

Adding kids to your existing policy is very inexpensive but has more limited benefits. For example, it will not accrue any cash value.

What Do I Need To Know About Buying Kids’ Life Insurance?

A smiling and laughing family of three.
Purchasing life insurance for a child is relatively uncomplicated. You will complete an insurance application for them, but they are not subject to any medical exams

Once the application is complete, an underwriter will review the paperwork. Generally, you can buy life insurance for kids if they are 17 years old or younger. Speak with an independent agent to get the best policy recommendation for your family. 

Most parents and grandparents choose to transfer ownership once the child reaches adulthood. And some policies automatically shift to the child once they reach a certain age, usually 21 years old.

Why Would I Buy a Life Insurance Policy for a Child?

An insurance agent with paper cut outs symbolizing auto insurance, home insurance, and insurance for kids.
There are several reasons why purchasing a life insurance policy for kids may be a good option for your family. 

  • Investment Vehicle – Many adults purchase life insurance plans for children because of the cash accrual. The younger the child, the higher the premium percentage that goes toward savings. The cash value grows over many years, and the policy owner may cash in or surrender the policy for payment at any point. There is often a surrender fee that applies. The child may choose to cash in their plan to have money available for things like college, their wedding, or a down payment for a home.
  • Tax Benefit – There is a potential tax perk to the plans, as the cash value growth is tax-deferred. That is, the cash value does not count as income until the person withdraws it. Taxes apply only on withdrawals that exceed the premiums paid for the plan. It is best to speak with a tax advisor for specific advice about your circumstances.
  • Lock In Insurability – When you buy a life insurance policy for a child, it ensures that they are insurable for their whole lives. Assuming they keep the policy active, they will not lose that level of coverage. This benefit is critical if they develop a medical condition that would make them uninsurable later in life. It also gives them coverage if they end up with a high-risk job or hobby as an adult. Many careers and hobbies make it difficult for people to get a policy.
  • Funeral Expenses – Finally, the policy will provide funeral and burial coverage in the event of a child’s death. This benefit can alleviate an otherwise significant financial burden to families at the worst time of their life. 

What You May Need to Consider Before Purchasing a Policy

A couple purchasing life insurance for kids.

It is important to look at your savings, budget, and allocation of investments before purchasing life insurance for kids. It is wise to meet with a financial advisor to look at your entire financial picture to know how much you can allocate toward additional insurance options. 

Before you consider buying a life insurance policy for your child, be sure you have sufficient coverage for yourself. Protecting your family’s finances if you pass away needs to be the top priority. Once you have that in place, talk with your insurance agent about available plans for your children.

Let’s Discuss All of Your Life Insurance Options

A parent and child holding a red heart in their hands, symbolizing life insurance for kids.
No matter what type of policy you need, be sure to find an agent you can trust. Lake Region Insurance Agency has been serving Minnesota families for decades.

Whether you need health, auto, home, or life insurance, we can find what you need. As independent agents, we do not have to rely on just one company. We can search through hundreds of policies to find the perfect fit for you. 

Our friendly team will help you secure the right coverage and the peace of mind that it provides. Contact us for a free policy review and quote. You’ll be on your way to financial security for your family.