February, with Valentine’s Day right smack dab in the middle of it, is a perfect choice for Heart Month. So what a great time to review our habits and their affect on our cardiovascular system.
According to https://www.health.harvard.edu, a trusted website with respect to health, here are five simple tips for the ongoing health of your ticker:
Yay! Since you’re already committed to regular Jazzercise classes, you can check this one off the list. I absolutely love this quote by Harvard Health: “Exercise and physical activity are about the closest things you have to magic bullets against heart disease and other chronic conditions.” Hear that? Your workout is a “magic bullet” and not just for your heart.
When it comes to Jazzercise classes, this is how we view the number of classes/week you attend in relation to their affect on fitness level:
- for the Fun of it
- for the Health of it
- for the Pants Fit of it (your pants should start to just slide right on!)
- for the Beach Fit of it (you’ll start to feel mighty fine about the idea of strolling the beach, in whatever you choose to wear!)
On the days you’re not at Jazzercise class, keep in mind the recommended goal for physical activity is 30 minutes/day. Here’s some suggestions on how to fit that in to your busy day: take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk (briskly) during coffee/lunch break or to work if possible, do some vigorous house- or yard work, and oh, especially this winter, you could shovel snow (and more snow and more snow)!
According to familydoctor.org, exercise makes the heart stronger because it helps it pump more blood with each beat, delivering more oxygen to the body, in turn causing the body to function more efficiently. Aerobic activity, like what you do at Jazzercise, is best for the heart because it causes you to breathe more deeply.
Regular exercise reduces the risk of heart disease, reduces levels of bad cholesterol and can also raise levels of good cholesterol while lowering blood pressure. A body composed of lean muscle burns more calories, even – how awesome is this? – at rest.
Dang! And I’ve always said I became a Jazzercise instructor because I love to eat. But you can love to eat and still be heart healthy. It’s all about choices. A few years ago I had to make a drastic shift to my diet because of skin rashes, so trust me, if I can do it, you can too. I started reading labels in the grocery store and yikes! You know what? If you can’t pronounce it and you have no idea what it is? It’s probably not good for you.
Harvard Health makes it this simple: Add fruit, vegetables, whole grains, unsaturated fats (olive, canola, avocado, omega-3), good proteins (fish, lean meats, skinless poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds, beans), herbs and spices. Subtract processed foods, salt (no more than 1 tsp/day), trans fats, rapidly digested carbohydrates (white bread, white rice, potatoes), red meat, soda, sugar-sweetened drinks. If “partially hydrogenated” is on the label, avoid it.
If you’re unsure about what/how you’re eating, google the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet or the Mediterranean diet, both good, sustainable eating options for a healthy lifestyle.
Aim for a Healthy Weight.
If you’re exercising regularly and eating right? This will happen naturally. As discussed last month in Weight Loss B’Gosh, what an individual weighs is also subject to some factors outside one’s control, like heredity and age, so it’s best not to obsess about. The concern? Carrying extra pounds, especially around the belly, strains the heart and can tip you toward diabetes. A proper diet and exercise distributes the pounds you carry to the right places.
Don't Drink Too Much Alcohol.
1/day for women to a weekly max of 10 and 2/day for men to a weekly max of 15.
Enough said about that one! If you do, quit (and be okay with failing a few times as the current ads say). If you don’t, don’t start.