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February is American Heart Health Month. And having a focus on the heart is beneficial not just for your heart health but also your brain health. In fact, the Alzheimer’s Association recommends that you become “Heart Smart”

 

After all, your heart pumps about 20% of your blood to your brain. If your heart isn’t doing it’s job, your brain may get shortchanged. This can cause your brain cells to have trouble getting the oxygen and nutrients they need.

1) Break-up with cigarettes and alcohol

Smoking doubles the risk of cardiovascular disease. There are many substances in the cigarette that leads to numerous health risks all of which directly or indirectly affect our hearts.

For example, the fatty material (atheroma) lines up on the walls of the arteries thus narrowing their diameters. With that, the carbon monoxide binds with the hemoglobin of our red blood cells and thus reduces the affinity of the oxygen for it.

Alcohol is also one of the risk factors for a heart attack. It causes an increase in blood pressure. Not just that, the increased amounts of calories that come with it are deemed as the major contributor to the waistline. Drinking alcohol in moderation is okay. Check with your doctor if you are not sure.

2) Do some cardio exercises regularly

Exercise for heart health

Not only cardio but any kind of exercise. Staying active throughout, or at least once in a day can decrease the likeliness of cardiovascular diseases. There are many exercises that you can do. However, if you cannot go to a gym or do intensive exercises, you can simply walk, run, or cycle.

The key is to move. Our bodies were not designed to sit behind a desk all day and be a couch potato when we go home. Set a timer at your desk. This will help to remind you to stand up and stretch. Or perhaps you can take a short walk around the office.

Your lunch break is a great time to get a little more exercise in. If you are lucky to work for a company that has a gym on site make sure to take advantage. Otherwise, just go for a walk. Bring a comfortable pair of shoes to slip into. On a good day go outside. Just being in nature can call your stress. This is an added benefit for your heart.

3) Keep a check on your diet

Heart Health Diet

Some of the best advice I ever heard was from Dr. Andrew Weil. He said the best way to stay healthy is to follow the parameters of the store. Think about it. This is where you will find fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and dairy. Fill your basket with these items and following a heart/brain healthy diet will be a snap.

Processed foods (those you find on the aisles) are often full of hydronated oils, sugar, and saturated fats. Eating too much of fatty foods (especially the saturated fats) can lead to accumulation of cholesterol in the arteries of our hearts. When you have a balanced diet, the perk that you gain is a balanced weight.

4) Include fish in your diet

Salmon for Heart Health

Fish meat is precisely what you need twice a week if you don’t want to have a stroke. Because it contains omega 3, fish helps your blood vessels to stay in normal distention without letting them constrict. That only becomes possible by the ability of the molecule to cut down triglycerides (a kind of fat) accompanied by a reduction in blood pressure and blood clotting. Therefore, when each of these arteries constraining elements is kept in check by the omega-3, the chances for you to develop heart disease is much lower.

Try different types of fish but pay attention to the ones that are high in Omega 3. Stay away from those higher in Omega 6.

5) Kick up your heels

Dancing for heart health

Go dancing with a group of friends. The activity along with the social interactions and fun will help your heart and your mind.  Dancing is a great aerobic exercise. But most people do not even think about the exercise component. They just enjoy having fun with a group of friends. Don’t have a partner? No worries. There are lots of types of dancing that does not require a partner. Line dancing is especially popular in Texas.

The Senior Dance Club is held at The South County Community Center is typically held on the first Thursday of the month from 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm. A small band provides the entertainment playing mostly country music and includes a variety of dances like the polka, two-step, waltz, and swing. Couples and singles of all ages are welcome to attend. A $5 suggested donation is collected at the door. For more information, contact Debbie Repka at 832-615-8204 or at drepka@woodlandsinterfaith.org Grab a friend or two and join the fun!

Two Left Feet?

No worries. The Fred Astair Studio in The Woodlands will have you gliding across the floor in no time. Offering group and private lessons and social events too. After all, one of the benefits of dancing is the social connections you make with others.

 

Our hearts might be strong enough to lead us through our lives. But as every organ has its limit, so does the heart. In order to live healthily, we should not push it to its limit. You can effectively do that by following the above-mentioned healthy heart tips. Promise yourselves in this American Heart Health Month of February that you’d do what’s best for your heart.

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