With Valentine’s day around the corner, we’re seeing hearts everywhere and this is a great opportunity to remind ourselves to keep our hearts healthy and strong. The heart is a crucial organ, responsible for pumping blood, nutrients, and waste to/from all parts of the body. Without our hearts’ functioning properly, we would cease to be alive. So how do we keep our hearts healthy and strong? Simple… eliminate and reduce the things that make our hearts weak, at the same time try to do more of the activities that strengthen our heart’s health.
-One major factor to our heart’s health is whether or not you smoke. Why is smoking so bad for the heart? The nicotine in cigarettes will cause your heart rate and blood pressure to sky rocket. The smoke from cigarettes (carbon monoxide) will rob your body of oxygen, which is needed by every body part in our body. In addition to that already mentioned, smoking can also cause your blood vessels to clot, thus making it harder for your heart to pump blood to the rest of your body. Having the heart work harder for long periods of time will cause it heart to weaken over time.
-Manage your blood pressure and blood sugar. Blood pressure is the pressure of your blood on the walls of our arteries. It’s an indicator of how well our cardiovascular system is working. Too low or too high, is a sign of how well your heart is working. Either of which is not a good thing especially long periods of time. The ideal range is more than 120 over 80 mmHg and less than 140 over 90 mmHg.
-When someone has diabetes, their body can’t maintain healthy levels of glucose in the blood. Glucose is a form of sugar which is the main source of energy for our bodies. Unhealthy levels of glucose in the blood can lead to long term and short term health complications such as heart damage, blood vessel damage, and organ damage.
-Other things that you should avoid in order to have a healthy heart: limit consumption salt/sodium, LDL fats and excessive amounts of alcohol.
What are things you can do more of to strength our hearts.
-Eat a variety of nutritious foods. The emphasis here is on nutrition, which means consume foods based on its effects on your body. Eat lots of vegetables, moderate fruits, proteins, and healthy fats. A simple way to test this is how do you feel after eating? After consuming a meal, are you tired or are you full of energy? How are you feeling after consuming a meal? If you are eating nutritious foods, your body will respond favorably and you’ll notice more energy.
-Exercise is by far one of the most important things you can do to keep your heart healthy. Any type of movement and activity that doesn’t require sitting, standing or laying around for a number of hours is great. Find activities that you enjoy and that you can do with a friend to help keep you accountable. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 150 minutes of exercise per week, that is approximately 30 mins of exercise 5 days a week. The harder you push yourself in your work outs, the less time you’ll have to commit to enduring it. That’s why high intensity interval training is becoming very popular with those who don’t have a lot of time to work out. Maximum effort in short periods of time at a fraction of a work out duration. Keep moving, our body’s were designed to move, start to embrace exercise as preventative medicine.
Doesn’t hurt to also get your nervous system checked to make sure the nerves that control your heart are functioning optimally.