The best thing you can do to maintain your cardiovascular health is to get up and start moving. Americans nationwide have realized the importance of maintaining cardiovascular health by modifying their personal lifestyle. In recognition of the most prevalent and fatal health disease, President Obama formally addressed the country on Feb 1. The heart even made history! As part of the Joint Resolution, February was written into the US Constitution as American Heart Month.
So what’s all the hype about? Cardiovascular Artery Disease (CAD) is the number one killer of both men and women in America. The heart is an organ that pumps nutrient rich blood through our arteries, and supplies oxygen through our veins. Deterioration of the vessels through buildup of plaque on the walls narrows the holes for blood to pass through (hypertension AKA high blood pressure). This creates pressure and forces the heart to pump faster and harder (myocardial infarction AKA heart attack).
Many factors contribute to the status of your heart, including genetics. If heart failure runs in your family, you have a higher risk. Age and gender play a role: Men over 45 and women over 55 have increased risk.
So what can YOU do to maintain heart fitness?
1. Don’t be a couch potato. Leading a sedentary life does not challenge the heart to work. Do any form of physical activity for thirty minutes, five times a week, at any level of intensity.
2. Quit smoking. The lungs actually blacken from the charcoal deposits. Think about smoking a cig, like sucking exhaust fumes out of the engine from a car.
3. Watch what you eat and lower cholesterol levels. Curb intake of foods high in saturated fats, oil, or salt.
Lastly, educate you friends. Even though deteriorating cardiovascular health usually occurs later in life, the lifestyle habits and choices we make now, affect our body in the future. As well, even though men have a higher probability of heart disease, women still should raise awareness. In support of the Heart Truth campaign, the National Blood, Heart, and Lung Institute announced Feb 5 as National Wear Red Day to garner higher support levels from women. Respect your body; put some heart into daily choices.
By Nikki Pepperman