When was the last time you thanked your heart? It might sound unusual to do, but when you consider how much your heart is responsible for keeping the body active and present in our daily lives, it motivates one to acknowledge such an integral part of our overall well-being. What better time to give acknowledgment and show yourself a little heart appreciation than in the month of February? Apart from the romantic nuances of red and pink decor filling our work offices and shopping malls, February is also officially American Heart Month.
Fitness is an integral part of upkeeping a healthy heart. This is why we wanted to highlight the American Heart Association, which focuses on sharing all things heart healthy and ways to help “build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.”1 Throughout the year, the AHA has helped educate the community on ways of sustaining healthy lives through daily lifestyle changes in hopes of promoting better heart health. It is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization with more than 22.5 million volunteers and supporters to date.2
The first public campaign to celebrate National Heart Week was introduced in February 1947.3 Since then, there have been intentional efforts towards bringing awareness of heart disease and stroke plaguing our nation where it is estimated that 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart-related diseases.4
How can we embrace American Heart Month?
- Get active with your peers or coworkers! On lunch breaks, or in between classes, consider a walk or run to your local LA Fitness with a few of your coworkers to break from the mundane routine while also increasing your weekly fitness activity.
- Make your own meals to take with you to work and school. When we depend on eating out for our source of nutrition, we can’t always control what ingredients or how much sodium we are consuming. Take a break from the food trucks and happy hour and get creative in the kitchen with some heart-healthy recipe options, provided by the AHA.
- Incorporate daily meditation or non-sensory activities such as mediation, which is known to help relax mind and body from daily stresses that can take a toll on your heart. Consider checking out a Yoga class. They are great for beginners and included with an LA Fitness membership. Or you can try downloading a meditation app that provides free meditation sessions you can do from the convenience of your phone.
- Keep a journal. Monitoring how your body responds to the things you eat can be a great way of managing your overall well-being. Making daily notes on feelings of new-found energy, or other important feelings, will bring more awareness to the activities that are aiding, or sometimes compromising, your heart health.
3 reasons why fitness is your heart’s best friend:
- Exercise works like beta-blocker medication to slow the heart rate and lower blood pressure (at rest and also when exercising). High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease.5
- Stress hormones can put an extra burden on the heart. Implementing exercise regardless of your fitness level can help you relax and ease stress.6
- A combination of aerobic workouts and strength training such as jogging, walking, [and] swimming is considered best for heart health. These exercises improve the muscles’ ability to draw oxygen from the circulating blood. That reduces the need for the heart—a muscular organ itself—to work harder to pump more blood to the muscles. 7
We owe our hearts a lot, from the way we feed it in the kitchen to how we exercise at the gym. Make it your mission to be mindful of how you are contributing to your heart’s overall health with these helpful activities you can do right now! There is no better time than now to take back your health and show you and your heart a little extra love.
- “About the American Heart Association.” About the American Heart Association, 2018 American Heart Association, Inc p. 1, www.heart.org/HEARTORG/General/About-Us—-American-Heart-Association_UCM_305422_SubHomePage.jsp.
- “About the American Heart Association.” About the American Heart Association .p.1
- “History of the American Heart Association Our Lifesaving History.” About Heart Attacks, www.heart.org/HEARTORG/General/About-Us—-American-Heart-Association_UCM_305422_SubHomePage.jsp.
- “American Heart Month.” Healthfinder.gov, healthfinder.gov/NHO/FebruaryToolkit.aspx.
- “Move More.” 7 Heart Benefits of Exercise, Johns Hopkins Medicine, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/healthy_heart/move_more/seven-heart-benefits-of-exercise, p.1.
- “Move More.”7 Heart Benefits of Exercise, p.1.