This is a good time to refocus on what we can do to keep our hearts healthy. Do you know that one quarter of American's die from cardiovascular (heart related) disease?
What can you do to keep your heart healthy for your lifetime?
The first and most important is to not smoke. If you are currently a smoker, put your mind to quitting. Talk to your doctor about medications or nicotine replacements that can help you stop smoking.
The second is to exercise! Each one of us should be aiming to exercise for twenty to thirty minutes every single day. If you aim for every day and actually hit about five days per week, you are going to do more to improve your health and feelings of well-being than almost any other single intervention you can make.
Exercise improves your heart health in almost every way possible.
Exercise helps the insulin in our bodies work better to control diabetes. Exercise helps to raise the good cholesterol in our bodies and lower bad triglycerides. Since both high cholesterol and diabetes increase the risk for heart disease, this is a one-two punch right off the bat. Exercise helps keep our blood flowing and our blood pressure down to prevent clotting, strokes and heart attacks. Exercise increases blood flow and oxygen to all of our tissues, including the muscle of our heart.
But the benefits of exercise do not end with our heart. Daily exercise releases endorphins to help decrease depression and anxiety and to increase our overall energy. Exercising regularly will allow you to fall asleep faster and sleep deeper and better. Using your muscles and bones to exercise increases balance and improves bone density, decreasing your risk for osteoporosis. The absolute number one thing you can do to decrease your risk of dementia (after not smoking) is to EXERCISE.
Exercise also improves your immunity to decrease your likelihood of getting sick and even more amazingly to decrease your risk of getting many types of cancer, including breast, colon, uterine, kidney, pancreatic, stomach and prostate cancer.
So, start moving! Help your heart be healthy and strong and get all these other benefits of exercise too. Even if you do nothing else, take yourself outside and walk as fast as you can for twenty minutes every day.
Let's celebrate American Heart month by committing ourselves to regular exercise.
Melanie Marin MD