February is American Heart Month


With a focus on the heart, it seems fitting that February is American Heart Month. In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson established the first American Heart Month. In his proclamation letter he stated, “I urge the people of the United States to give heed to the nationwide problem of the heart and blood-vessel diseases, and to support the programs required to bring about its solution.”

Although we’ve come a long way since 1964, there is still a lot of work to be done. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death in the United States.

The risk factors for heart disease include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Excessive alcohol use

The good news, however, is that heart disease can be prevented and treated with proper nutrition, adequate physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding smoking, stress management, and care from healthcare professionals.

As you know, establishing healthy habits in childhood and adolescence can lead to healthy adult lifestyles. Continue reading about some of the many ways you and your students can get involved with American Heart Month in school.

  • Manage stress by beginning each school day with a few minutes of mindful breathing exercises with students.
  • The heart is the hardest working muscle in the body. Get hearts moving by integrating movement breaks throughout the school day.
  • Start a walking club with your fellow educators or students – even if it’s only for 5-10 minutes per day.
  • Focus on nutrition by hosting a potluck lunch at school with your fellow educators. Encourage everyone to bring a heart-healthy dish with copies of the recipes to share. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute provides a variety of recipes to check out.
  • Invite a local public health professional to be a guest speaker about the dangers associated with smoking – including an increased risk of heart disease.
  • Partner with community organizations to host a health fair in school.
  • Register your school for the American Heart Association Kids Heart Challenge (elementary, middle, and high school levels).
  • Incorporate a ready-to-go engaging lesson about the wonders of the cardiovascular system for students across grade levels:

 Kindergarten-Grade 2


Grades 3-5


Middle School


High school


  • Just for fun - Draw a human heart with students with the help of this step-by-step video tutorial. Take it a step further by labeling the parts of the human heart.
  • Your heart pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood daily. The first open-heart surgery occurred in 1893. Whales have the largest heart of any mammal. Learn more interesting facts about the heart here.

Thank you for touching the hearts of students each and every day! Here’s to strong, happy, and healthy hearts this month and beyond.

Other relevant and helpful resources you might be interested in:

  • Stress Less for a Healthier Heart


  • Self-Care Tips for Heart Health


  • Move More Fact Sheet PDF


Here are a few classes related to this topic:

Jill Rockwell
Jill has over 13 years of experience as a licensed teacher in the areas of Special Education, Reading Education, and Health Education. She embraces diversity and has worked with students in grades K-12 in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and California. Jill completed her Master of Science degree at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls while teaching full time. She fully understands the soaring demands of today’s teachers. Her courses are designed to maximize the time of all educators by providing engaging, meaningful, and applicable activities which can be used to enhance teaching practices. She focuses on research-based best practices and technology integration throughout her own instructional practices. Together with her husband and two young boys, Jill enjoys traveling, biking and the changing seasons of the great outdoors in Wisconsin. 

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