Give Your Heart Some Love In February - February 3, 2014
February is known for matters of the heart, with Valentine’s Day right in the middle of it. It also is American Heart Month, which promotes heart health.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women – but it is preventable. Here are a few things to know and do to help move you toward a healthier heart:
1. Know your family history: You may be at risk for coronary heart disease if you have a relative who has been diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes.
2. Exercise regularly: Physical inactivity is a risk factor for coronary heart disease. Regular cardiovascular exercise – that is, any exercise that works the heart and lungs – is beneficial to heart and overall health by:
- Increasing function of the heart and decreasing its demand for oxygen, both of which reduce the risk of disease;
- Helping to control cholesterol levels, diabetes and obesity, all of which contribute to heart disease;
- Improving mood, increasing energy, and bettering sleep.
A walking program probably is the simplest form of exercise and can be done without the need for a gym membership or special equipment. For physical activity in adults, the American Heart Association recommends:
- At least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise at least five days per week for a total of 150 minutes, or 25 minutes of high-intensity exercise for a total of 75 minutes per week. If you know you can’t go for 30 minutes, start with a more realistic goal and work your way up.
- Muscle-strengthening activity at least two or more days per week
You should consult with your physician before beginning any type of exercise program. Once you have been cleared to begin, your physician, along with a physical therapist, can help you get started.