Your Happy Healthy Heart

So it’s a cold, grey day in my part of the world. After a busy morning getting a strong training session in and some always necessary house work, and then working on some of my other fun projects (  revamping old furniture) I decided I deserved some coffee and writing time.

My training though, it’s hard to take myself outside to the building I use on cold mornings ’cause like, it has no heat.

This can work in my favor in several ways. Usually, it means I get out there and get moving with some cardio to get my blood stirring so I warm up fast.

Today I decided some time spent  boxing should do the trick to get me warmed up.  It always works….

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Boxing. It not only gets your heart rate up, it warms you up fast too.

Toss some angry music in my ear, add my well worn pink gloves, 20 minutes later I’m in a full sweat, cold air and all.

Oh. Wait.

What cold?

So the boxing warmed me up for 45 minutes of strength training, i.e. muscle building time. I might mention though, all those solid metal weights, not much warms them up when you first grab hold of them!

Overall, a nice strong training session.

That boxing though, it’s a form of cardio that I love for a variety of reasons. Like, I can punch something as hard as I want and not get in trouble haha. It can be very, very good therapy.

But lets not forget its great upper body and core workout too, but it also has great benefits for getting the heart working hard. We can forget that those internal muscles of our heart and lungs need strong training as much as our arms and legs, well, actually they need it more.

That’s what I wanna talk about today… our heart and exercise and some other stuff too.

Here in the states, February is heart month.

However, I’m thinking if you’re reading this you’re alive, which means you have a beating heart, and it needs proper care so wherever you are in this world, you can read this too.

Let’s look at some facts….

Yeah, yeah, you know I’m gonna offer up some facts here, don’t you? Maybe you’ve seen “facts” in your own family if you have loved ones who’ve suffered or do suffer with heart disease.

But do you know, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. ?

And do you also know that it’s preventable ? Making heart healthy choices, knowing your family history, knowing risk factors you have, and having regular check ups are all a part of proactively caring for your heart.

Heart disease (which includes Heart Disease, Stroke and other Cardiovascular Diseases) is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for people of most racial/ethnic groups in the United States, including African Americans, Hispanics and Whites. For Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders and American Indians or Alaska Natives, heart disease is second only to cancer

Cardiovascular diseases claim more lives than all forms of cancer combined

Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing nearly 380,000 people annually

In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 34 seconds. Every 60 seconds, someone in the United States dies from a heart disease-related event.

Direct and indirect costs of heart disease total more than $320.1 billion. That includes health expenditures and lost productivity.

Women and heart disease….

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined.

Every minute, approximately one woman dies from heart disease.

Only 1 in 5 American women believe that heart disease is her greatest health threat

An estimated 6.6 million women alive today in the U.S. have coronary heart disease.

90% of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease or stroke. This stat is sobering for yours truly sitting here writing this. As a woman who feels she leads a healthy lifestyle, eats well, exercises often and has a low family history, the idea of being in the 10% of no risk is perhaps slim.

The symptoms of heart disease can be different in women and men and are often misunderstood.

Men and women are not the same when it comes to heart disease.

Well gosh, thanks for all this good news….

Remember earlier, I said this was a preventable disease? Unfortunately, our lifestyles can be one of the biggest problems for developing heart disease. A high fat, processed diet lacking good quality heart healthy foods and inactivity are often the culprits to heart problems.

Those things, we can make changes on in our lives. We can begin to exchange foods that aren’t so great for heart health for ones that are. We can put on shoes and start walking each day. Almost everyone has the ability to walk. Start there, but just start moving.  Do it at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.

You get a gold star if you do more 😉

Clipart Illustration of a Healthy Red Heart Running Past
exercise does your heart good

Failure to exercise (walking or doing other moderate activities for at least 30 minutes five days a week or more vigorous workouts at least 20 minutes three times a week) can contribute to an increased risk of coronary heart disease as physical activity helps control weight, cholesterol levels, diabetes and, in some cases, can help lower blood pressure.

Find some posts I’ve done on exercise here if you need some more reading material…https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2016/08/03/so-you-hate-exercise/

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2015/05/25/does-exercise-have-benefits/

Adopt a diet low in salt, saturated and transfats and high in unsaturated fats (fish, avocado, etc.)  I don’t talk about specific “diets” but I did a review comparing two, one I can endorse as practical, livable and good for you. Find it here….https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/07/21/keto-and-dash-diet-review/

Maintain a normal body weight with caloric adjustment

Avoid smoking and recreational drug use

Have no more than ½ to 1 alcoholic beverage per day.

Know and review your risk factors with a trusted physician. Your physician may recommend medications to control cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes.

Know and understand your family history. Next to your personal care of yourself, this will help you assess any potential problems that are out of your control.

People who are overweight are more likely to develop heart disease and stroke, even if they have none of the other risk factors. Excess weight causes extra strain on the heart; influences blood pressure, cholesterol and levels of other blood fats – including triglycerides; and increases the risk of developing diabetes. 66% of Americans over age 20 are obese.

If you have diabetes be aware that the condition seriously increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, even if glucose levels are under control. More than 80% of diabetes sufferers die of some form of heart or blood vessel disease.

With all that being said

By maintaining a heart healthy diet, doing active vigorous exercise, knowing your family history and having regular checkups you can be sure to keep your heart in the best shape you can.

So when you’re out there exercising and your heart is beating strongly in your chest, appreciate all it does for you and continue to show it love back by doing things to keep it healthy and well.

What do you do to keep your heart strong and healthy?

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Your Happy Healthy Heart

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Your heart. How often do you think about it?  Probably not often although it’s been working for you since your mom was 6 weeks pregnant with you ( let that breathe over you for a minute) and it has continued its work tirelessly for you and will do so until you breathe your last breath.

It’s heart health month here in the U.S. but I’m pretty sure heart health is a world wide important thing, right?  The focus of course is to make people aware of their heart and how to take better care of it for a long life.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. Seriously. Over all cancers and diseases it’s at the top of the charts.

The good news is… it’s one of the most preventable types of diseases.

The sad news is aside from genetic issues some have, most of it is brought on by our lifestyle and what we do or don’t do to ourselves.

Consider some of these sobering stats:

Heart disease (which includes Heart Disease, Stroke and other Cardiovascular Diseases) is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States

Cardiovascular diseases claim more lives than all forms of cancer combined.

Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing nearly 380,000 people annually

In regards to women consider these facts: Pay attention ladies.

  • Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined.
  • While 1 in 31 American women dies from breast cancer each year, 1 in 3 dies of heart disease.
  • Heart disease causes 1 in 3 women’s deaths each year, killing approximately one woman every minute.
  • Only 1 in 5 American women believe that heart disease is her greatest health threat.
  • An estimated 43 million women in the U.S. are affected by heart disease.
  • Ninety percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease.
  • Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease.
  • The symptoms of heart disease can be different in women and men, and are often misunderstood.

(source Sources: CDC.gov – Heart Disease Facts
American Heart Association – 2015 Heart Disease and Stroke Update)

Heart disease is a huge issue and you (mostly) have control over it. What are steps you can take to keeping and having a healthy heart?

Don’t smoke. Smoking damages the heart and blood vessels. Smokers have a much higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

Maintain a healthy weight. Don’t be in denial. If you’re overweight you know it and it’s not good for your heart .

Being overweight or obese increases your risk of heart disease and diabetes. It also increases your chances of having high blood pressure/ and or cholesterol.

Know your numbers. Your cholesterol ( good and bad) and triglycerides are important numbers to let you know what’s going on inside you. Talk with your doctor about what yours should look like.

At my last visit he informed me that my good cholesterol was really high ( because of my exercise) my triglycerides were only double digit numbers.. something he said he almost never sees… again.. thank you good nutrition and exercise 🙂

Your blood pressure. Again, know what’s your normal range and stay in that zone. Losing as little as 10lbs can dramatically drop it.

What other ways can you be proactive to having a healthy heart?

Watch what you eat! Strive to eat whole, healthy foods and skip processed, refined or fast foods.

Be aware of your weight. Less body mass is less strain on your heart.

Exercise. I can’t stress this enough. Your heart is a muscle that needs worked out too. Vigorous cardio exercise, minimum of 30 minutes, most days of the week is essential to keeping your heart strong and fit. Not only that. it benefits the rest of you too 😉

How does cardiovascular exercise affect your heart?

Clipart Illustration of a Healthy Red Heart Running Past

 

When performing cardio, blood flow is directed toward working muscles and away from areas that aren’t doing much (such as your arms during running, or the digestive tract). There is increased blood flow, and blood volume returning to the heart.

As the heart registers a larger blood volume, over time the left ventricle adapts and enlarges. This larger cavity can hold more blood, and ejects more blood per beat, even at rest.

Over time, with chronic cardio training, our resting heart rate drops because each beat delivers a bigger burst of blood, and fewer beats are needed. This takes work off your heart and is why cardio exercise is recommended for heart health.

I’ve been tracking my heart rate for awhile and it’s been interesting to see my resting heart rate bouncing between the high 40’s -low 50’s.  All that cardio has had payoffs… a much lower resting heart rate.

Other cool stuff about your heart on exercise….

When done regularly, moderate- and vigorous-intensity physical activity strengthens your heart muscle. This improves your heart’s ability to pump blood to your lungs and throughout your body. As a result, more blood flows to your muscles, and oxygen levels in your blood rise.

Like all muscles, the heart becomes stronger as a result of exercise, so it can pump more blood through the body with every beat and continue working at maximum level, if needed, with less strain. It becomes a powerful, more efficient working machine for you.

Seriously, I cannot stress enough the importance of strong, vigorous exercise for your hearts health.

Whether you are aware of it or not,  your heart works constantly for you. An amazing piece of equipment planted in your chest bringing life giving blood and oxygen to every part of your body with no effort on your part.

Your effort.. should come in taking care of it… doing everything you can to keep it strong, healthy and fit.

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