The Heart. (National Heart Month)

The heart.  The most amazing muscle in your body. The heart beats 100,000 times a day pumping 2,000 gallons of blood through your body.  The heart is only the size of your fist but it's the most important muscle / organ in your body.  The only way to keep your heart healthy is to keep an active and healthy lifestyle.

Coronary Heart Disease. (CHD) is the most common type of heart disease in the United States and the number one cause of death among men and women.  A male heart weighs about 10 ounces a female heart weighs approximately 8 ounces. The signs that the heart is in trouble are very different.  Men notice have the chest and arm pain while women will experience nausea, indigestion and shoulder pain. Over 1040 Americans die of coronary heart disease EACH DAY.

CHD begins when the coronary arteries of the heart begin to narrow due to plaque formation known as atherosclerosis. Normal blood flow becomes difficult, the heart has to work overtime and this could puts a stress on the heart and body leading to severe chest pains or ultimately a heart attack.  Poor lifestyle choices such as smoking, poor diet and inactivity can lead the actions mentioned above.  

Studies have shown that increasing physical activity can significantly decrease your chances of developing CHD and in some cases* exercise can easily replace medication and/or medical treatment if detected early. Now drop down and give me TEN! Of course, I am joking but if you had to choose between a high medical bill and a gym membership, I would go with the gym membership!

If you are like many Americans, you probably live a very busy lifestyle. Sitting down and preparing meals can be tedious and getting a workout in sometimes seems impossible but it can be done. It’s making small changes in your lifestyle that will help make a significant change in your life.  Walking, jogging, cycling or light strength training are just a few ideas to get you started.  If you are not into high impact workouts, yoga and/or pilates are another great option to keep you fit and improve your overall health, especially your heart.

Below are some choices we can all make to get our hearts stronger! 

NO MORE SMOKING! Smoking reducing how much oxygen your heart gets.  Smoking raises your blood pressure and speeds up your heart rate.  Smoking makes blood clots more likely, which can lead to heart attacks or strokes.  Smoking harms the inside of your blood vessels with nicotine and this includes harming the heart.

LET'S EAT BETTER! Poor dieting includes saturated fats and trans fats which need to be reduced and in some cases eliminated from your diet.  Limiting your saturated fat intake to less that 7 grams daily and trans fat to 1 gram a day are recommended.  Choose foods with unsaturated fats, such as monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats.  Reduce the amount of butter and shortening in your diet; replace them with olive oil or canola oils.  If you want more specific information for your body type, talk to your local dietitian for more details. 

MOVE 2 IMPROVE! Living an INactive lifestyle can definitely be harmful to the heart.  A sedentary lifestyle does NOT help blood flow, stress or oxygen intake. Living an ACTIVE lifestyle strengthens the heart through increased blood flow, good oxygen intake, reduced stress levels and blood pressure.  

So, let's get moving and starting improving our hearts! #move2improve

*Please see a medical professional for more extensive information about your heart health and a registered dietitian when it comes to eating the right foods specific for your dieting needs.  Thank you!