Draw your attention inward, toward the body’s center and just a little
to the left of your chest. Put your hand there and feel that amazing beat.
Yes, that’s your heart the hardest working and most often least
thought of muscular organ in the human body.
Consider the Amazing Human Heart
Your heart is about the size of your two fists and pumps about 100,000
times in one day, 35 million times in a year and more than 2.5 billion
times in a lifetime.
Your heart works non-stop with a force similar to you squeezing a tennis
ball as hard as you can as it pumps blood out to the body. The heart pumps
blood through the aorta, which has the diameter of a garden hose and along
the way fills capillaries so small that it takes ten of them to equal
the thickness of a human hair.
Your body has about 6 quarts of blood circulating your body three times
every minute. Your blood travels 12,000 miles in one day. The heart pumps
about 1 million barrels of blood during an average lifetime.
Ways to Show your Heart how Much You Love and Appreciate it
Eat Healthy and Whole foods
To keep a healthy heart and your blood pumping through smooth and supple
arteries, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends a diet rich
in nutritious wholefoods. Whole foods offer vitamins and minerals, macro
nutrients, fiber, and other nutrients that keep you feeling your best
and help you to maintain a healthy weight. Aim for fresh fruits and vegetables,
whole grains, low-fat dairy, skinless poultry and fish, nuts and legumes,
and non-tropical vegetable oils. Eat no trans-fat, limit saturated fat,
sodium, red meat, sweets and sugar sweetened beverages. If choosing red
meats select the leanest cuts available. If you do not drink do not start,
if you do, drink in moderation, 1 drink for women and 1 or 2 for men daily at most.
Your Heart likes it when you are Active
The AHA recommends 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at
least 5 days a week for a total of 150 minutes, or at least 25 minutes
of vigorous aerobic acidity at least 3 days per week for a total of 75
minutes or a combination of moderate and vigorous-intensity. Add in moderate
to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days per week.
In a pinch for time, think something is always better than nothing. Think
nothing takes as long as I think it will. If being more active is new
to you start small and build over time. Try walking 10 minutes a day and
increase by 5 minutes each week until you build up to 30 minutes 5 x a
week. Try some body weight resistance exercises and gradually add in light
weights to begin your resistance work.
Being physically active does not have to be formal exercise, you may have
an easier time being active if you approach activity as a way to have
some fun and play in your life. How do you like to move, what is fun to
you? What was fun to you in the past that you may revisit? If you are
in an area this winter where there is snow some fun ways to enjoy the
winter season is to go tubing down a snowy hill, go ice skating, play
hockey, cross country ski, or go snow shoeing. If you and your dog are
bored of the same city streets try a new path for your daily walks, you
may find both you and your dog want to walk longer than before. Partner
up with others who also want to be active by joining a walking or hiking,
canoeing, or kayaking club. Maybe you will do 10 pushups and 10 jumping
jacks each time you brush your teeth. Who knows, with just a little thought
and creativity you may find some inventive and fun ways to be more active each day.
Hearts Break when there is Smoke in the Room–Avoid Tobacco and Second
Smoking robs you of some of your good cholesterol
Smoking temporarily raises your blood pressure
Smoking increases the blood’s clotting ability
Smoking makes it more difficult to exercise
Smoking is correlated with cardiovascular disease
If you are a smoker and want to quit there is good news out there. Did
you know that almost immediately after you quit smoking your lungs and
other smoke damaged organs begin to repair themselves? The single number
one behavioral change you can do for your heart, your lungs, and your
overall quality of life is to stop smoking or using tobacco products.
You can do it! Start with your primary care Physician for the many options
available to you to help you kick this habit.
Give yourself and your Heart a break –Reduce Your Stress
It may be fair to say that most of us have experienced stressful events
in our lives. It is also fair to assume that due to the busy culture we
live in that most of us experience some stress on a daily basis. It is
this day to day chronic stress that can affect our heart in negative ways
possibly leading to the development and progression of coronary artery
disease. Unfortunately, when we are stressed we do not always make the
best decisions sometimes we can revert to negative stress reducing habits
like increased alcohol usage, less exercise and sleep, and over eating
sweet and salty foods, making things even worse.
Take Charge of your Brain and It Will take Charge of Your Body–Positive
Ways to Manage Stress
Identify areas in your life that are causing you the most stress
Begin to create a plan to work toward a solution to stressful situations
you can change
Build an acceptance around the stress that is not going away any time soon
Take time out each day to relax, take a play break, watch a funny clip and laugh
Get enough sleep
Exercise on most days of the week
Have healthy foods available to you
Prioritize your schedule. What takes up most of your time? Where can you
delegate duties at home and at work?
It is helpful to learn to let go
Seek out the support of family and friends
Be kind to yourself and give yourself permission to be human and not superhuman
If caffeine stresses you more try switching to decaffeinated drinks
Practice a deep breathing relaxation exercise at least 5 minutes 1 x a
day or before or after a stressful event
Try this deep breathing exercise created by the American Heart Association
to help you relax and unwind anytime you need to calm down and de-stress
- Sit in a comfortable chair, feet flat on the floor, hands in your lap or
in a reclining position, eyes open or closed; whatever you prefer
- Picture yourself in a peaceful place, on a beach with the warm sun on your
face and sand between your toes, or walking in the forest with the scent
of pine wafting in the crisp mountain air, maybe you are in a hot air
balloon and floating about a majestic wheat field. Take your mind to your
favorite happy place
- Inhale and exhale. Focus on breathing slowly and deeply. Put your hand
on your stomach and feel your breath go in and out in a rhythmic pattern
- Continue to breathe slowly for 10 minutes or more, all the while focusing
on that happy place in your mind. Do you feel the warmth of the sun, or
can you smell the pine trees, imagine the feeling of freedom as you soar
in the sky over a golden wheat field
Try to take at least five to 10 minutes every day for this deep breathing
and imagery relaxation technique. With practice you can train your mind
to go to its happy place anytime you need a moment do de-stress.
On Line Article Sources:
(2015, March) How Cigarettes Damage Your Body.
American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults.
The American Heart Association’s Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations
Four Ways to Deal with Stress.
Cleveland Clinic. (2016, January).
Stress & Heart Disease.
(2015, January) Heart Facts.