General Heart Health

Happy Valentine’s Day!

v-day

This time of year inspires poems, love, chocolate, and hearts. But what about your actual heart? What can you do to keep the most important muscle in your body strong?

 

human-heart
The Heart

The Human Heart is a multi-chambered, muscular organ. It has a few jobs in the body:

  • Deliver oxygen from the lungs to the muscles and organs
  • Take away waste, such as lactic acid (which is produced through exercise) or Carbon Dioxide
  • Deliver nutrients to different parts of the body

The Heart has the capacity to pump 6 quarts of blood throughout the body and it beats about 60 times per minute.

However, sometimes the heart cannot do its job. Plaque can build up inside the arteries from our food. Stress can cause a strain on the heart, causing it to work harder. Lack of exercise can cause a weakness in the muscle.
“How can I help my heart?”

sleep

  • Get a good night’s sleep

This is easier said than done, but getting a good night’s sleep lowers stress and lowers calcium levels in the heart. A high calcium level is a sign of heart disease.

 

 

stop

  • Limit unhealthy habits

Smoking, drinking alcohol excessively, and eating fatty foods are the prime examples of unhealthy habits.

If you quit smoking, within two hours, your blood pressure and heart rate will come down to normal levels. That’s just a short term effect of quitting.

Drinking alcohol causes all kinds of effects on the body, but your heart takes a big brunt of the impact. It increases blood pressure as a normal effect, but drinking in excess can weaken your heart. Limiting alcoholic drinks to one or two a day is recommended. However, the less you drink, the better off your heart will be.

We have all heard about unhealthy foods. But it cannot be said enough: unhealthy foods can cause a strain on your heart and can cause plaque build up in your arteries.

Some “Heart Healthy” Foods:

  • Grapes, Apples, Bananas, Blackberries, Pineapples
  • Sunflower Seeds, Unsalted Peanuts, Unsalted Almonds
  • Fruit Juice
  • Yogurt (especially Greek nonfat)
  • Cucumbers, Broccoli, Celery, Carrots
  • Cherrios, Rice Cakes, Sugar Free Jello

For more foods ideas: http://womanista.com/wellness/2016/08/16/33-heart-healthy-foods/

  • Lower stress levels

Unfortunately, this is another ‘easier said than done’ tip. Meditation, reading, and deep breathing are among the top recommended ways of lowering your stress.

Personal note: A few people that come to our office say they count hobbies, such as cooking and sewing, as relaxing therapies. Finding a hobby that is helpful to your everyday life may help lower your stress levels.

 

  • Exercise

Not everyone can make it to the gym, and most busy people don’t exercise because they don’t have the time.

How much time do we need to exercise anyway? According to the American Heart Association: “…at least 150 minutes per week…30 minutes a day, 5 times a week is an easy goal to remember.”

Take a look at the full article by the American Heart Association:

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/American-Heart-Association-Recommendations-for-Physical-Activity-in-Adults_UCM_307976_Article.jsp#mainContent

 

If you’d like to try a 5 minute workout, take a look at this video from Fitness Blender.

Note: Please do any exercise at your own pace.  Do not push your body beyond its limits, especially if you have a weakened heart, or a pre-existing condition.  Talk to your doctor before you start any hardcore exercising.

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