Thursday, April 9, 2015

A to Z - "H" is for Heart Health

Let's talk about heart health here for today. I was born with a heart murmur that I, fortunately, outgrew. The heart is a life-giving organ. It is essential that you care for it.

The best two ways to care for your heart are diet and exercise. While I have blogged before on nutrition and exercise, I'm no expert. I'm just learning and slogging through all the information out there along with every other human.

Here are the Top 25 Foods you should eat to have a healthy heart via WebMD. Basically, eat foods that are as natural, or whole, as possible. This is one reason why I love gardening; eating the fresh veggies!

Other tips seem obvious:
  • Don’t smoke
  • Stay at a healthy weight
  • Avoid spending hours every day sitting
  • Exercise
  • Keep your diabetes, high blood pressure, and/or high cholesterol under control
  • Manage your stress
  • Don’t drink a lot of alcohol
Basically, if you feel anything strange, like fluttering of your heart, missing a beat, racing pulse, and you aren't doing anything stressful or any exercise, go to the doctor. Or if you are unable to complete your normal tasks every day without feeling tired or dizzy, go to the doctor.

Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (such as brisk walking) at least 5 days a week. If you're just getting started, you can slowly build up to that.In time, you can make your workouts longer or more challenging. Do that gradually, so your body can adjust.When you work out, keep your pace low for a few minutes at the start and end of your workout. That way, you warm up and cool down each time. Link
 There are different types of exercise:

Cardio or aerobic- running, biking, swimming, hiking, elliptical - you're pushing too hard if you can't talk to someone while doing it. (Unless it is swimming, because then water would get into your mouth :) )

Stretching - do this to prevent your muscles from being so sore after a workout, but also to gain flexibility. Stretch slowly and stop before it hurts.

Strength Training - weights, resistance bands, or bodyweight exercise- great for toning and hiit training (high intesity interval) which is a good way to get in a workout in a short period of time.

Check out the American Heart Association's Fitness Basics or review a long list of exercises here.

AHA Recommendation

For Overall Cardiovascular Health:

  • At least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week for a total of 150

  • At least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week for a total of 75 minutes; or a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity

  • Moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days per week for additional health benefits.

For Lowering Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
  • An average 40 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity 3 or 4 times per week
I have been trying to fit in a 30 minute cardio every day (except Monday, which is too busy), or some kind of exercise, like a hiit workout or using a punching bag (really gets the stress/anger out).

Having a healthy heart is important to me. I want to be around to see my grandchildren and great-grandchildren (and maybe even great-great?). Plus, I can't fulfill my dreams if I am sick and in bed.

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