As we draw closer to the end of February aka “Heart Month” there are many ways to strengthen both your own heart and the hearts of those you love. Here are a few:
Move! This means Exercise.
Take even a modest amount of time each day for physical activity, fresh air, and natural light. It is so easy these days to get into a “rut” in front of our computers, i-Phones and TVs and not simply get out, stretch, lift and breathe. You don’t have to be a marathon runner, Olympic athlete, or professional weightlifter to do your heart some good.
Just get off the couch and move! Walking, swimming, biking or anything that works the heart and lungs are all going to benefit your heart as well as the rest of your body and mind. Do you know that if you park only 20 feet farther away in a parking lot every day, you will walk about 3 miles more each year? If you weigh 140 pounds and walk up 4 stairs a day, you will have lifted almost 200,000 pounds in a year!
Watch What You Eat
As with exercise, your diet isn’t decided in a single moment or at a single meal—it is a cumulative process that helps determine your heart health over time. Portion control, a vegetable/fruit-based diet, lots of good quality fluids, and fewer processed foods can all contribute to your Heart Health. High quality fiber and unsaturated fats along with nuts and seeds are also key elements.
Optimize Your Body Composition
This is about a lot more than just “losing weight”. It is about finding the right body composition for you at your stage in life. We tend to lose body mass (muscle) as we age, especially if we don’t eat right or do proper exercise. So the quality of your diet and your caloric intake are both key here. Find a good source to test your body composition, set achievable health goals for your body cell mass and fat mass, and monitor them on a quarterly basis. This can be done with simple Bio-Impedance Analysis (BIA) as we perform at PMCM.
If you are a smoker, consider even one day away from smoking—you will be the better for it. Even someone who has smoked for decades can improve their cardio health by reducing, or (better) stopping this habit.
See your healthcare provider and have your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar checked regularly. Determine if there are areas where you can improve your numbers. Spend time looking at your results and learn:
What does the number mean?
Am I in the “normal/healthy” range?
Is there a problem?
What approaches can we take to improve my test results next time?
Here is hoping that February is a “heartfelt month of health” for you and yours, and that by next February you will even be healthier!