February, the month of love, is also American Heart Month. Heart Disease is the number one killer of women and cardiovascular disease (which includes a number of conditions affecting the heart) is the leading cause of death for both women and men. While the statistics are dire, there is hope! The ways to improve heart health are definitely doable.
Being even moderately overweight can increase the risk for developing coronary heart disease as well as a variety of other heart-related illnesses. And the best news is, it’s not an all or nothing proposition, you don’t have to be at your ideal weight to benefit, losing even a little bit of excess weight can make a big difference.
Studies have shown that maintaining a sedentary lifestyle is incredibly dangerous for your health. The good news is, you don’t have to start training for a marathon or move into the gym, just 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise can make a huge difference in improving your heart health.
In addition to being a key component of maintaining a healthy weight, getting enough sleep plays a big role in heart health. Research has shown that lack of sleep increases your risk of chest pain, heart attack, or stroke. While it’s different for everyone, 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night is ideal.
We all experience stress on a daily basis, and not all of it bad, it’s just life. The alarm going off in the morning can be a stressor. That kind of stress may be annoying but it’s not going to kill you. But constant, chronic stress, that can cause serious health issues. To reduce stress, or at least its impact on you, exercise. Exercise is one of the best stress relievers out there. Other great stress relievers include meditating, soaking in the tub, getting a massage or even just calling a friend.
Being social and actively involved with a group, not only helps to keep our minds sharp, but also improves our mood and helps to keep our heart healthy as well. Even online communities like Facebook can have a positive impact on heart health. And laughing, in particular, helps to reduce stress and improve heart function.
Author: Sue Ridgeway