With the winter holidays behind you, ski season half over, and all the pink foil-wrapped chocolates cleared out of your candy dish, it’s head-on towards thoughts of spring and warmer weather. As you start planning your spring 10K race, snowshoeing trek, or even a spring break excursion, this is a great time to give some attention to what makes all of your athletic feats possible. Your sky-high endurance is great, your killer pecs are impressive and your level of ambition is certainly notable. However, without this one little necessary goldmine that holds on its own more endurance and muscle tone than any other part of your body, you wouldn’t be able to do anything, impressive or otherwise. Keep taking care of your heart.
Your heart is where it’s all at, health-wise, and during American Heart Month it’s important to take note of the grim reality of heart disease in our country. Sadly, heart disease claims more lives of American men and women than any other cause of death. Not only that, nearly half of Americans have at least one major risk factor of heart disease, and don’t even know it. Luckily for us, the heart is one tough cookie, and it’s pretty easy (and fun) to take proper care of it. With how hard-working and precious this organ is for us, let’s pause for a few beats to consider what we can do to show our heart some love in return.
- Stop the stress. Easier said than done, sure. However, long-term stress can wreak havoc on your artery walls. Luckily, you’re already most likely on track with one proven stress-buster – exercise. As if you needed one more reason to strap on those athletic shoes and hit the studio. Speaking of working out . . .
- Sweat it out. Consider exercise and your heart BFF’s. Working out can prevent and treat many types of heart disease. Sure beats taking life-long meds, right? (One word of caution: just don’t go too extreme. Studies have shown that working out TOO extremely can actually damage parts of your heart. It’s all about balance, friend.)
- Find your fat friends – the good fats in food, that is. The omega-3 fats found in avocados, nuts, salmon and olives actually lower your bad cholesterol, raise your good cholesterol, lower triglycerides and may reduce the risk of blood clots. Do be wary of the omega-6 fats, however. These fats found in sunflower oil, corn oil, soybean oil (and the products made from them, like salad dressings) can actually increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Do we have to say it? Don’t smoke. And avoid the stuff second-hand, too. According to a U.S. Surgeon General report, “Nonsmokers are up to 30-percent more likely to develop heart disease or lung cancer from secondhand smoke exposure at home or work.”
- Know your roots. Since heart disease is hereditary, it’s important to give your family tree a good shake, and get the scoop on whether there’s any in your family. Getting Grandma to fess up about her irregular heartbeat may be tough, but it’s worth it.
Happy Heart Month to you. Spread the heart love with your own ticker, and spread some heart knowledge with the ones you love. Now step away from the screen, and start taking better care of your heart. What better place to get started than at your local FIT36®. Find a studio near you: http://fit36fitness.com/find-a-studio