As January comes to a close, and we begin Heart Month, do you have any special plans to take care of your heart? We can think about it physically and emotionally.
Many things that we can do for our heart physically supports our overall wellbeing; including emotionally. Obviously some people will make appointments with their cardiologist this month, which is great. Some will get their cholesterol and blood pressure checked. Others may choose to “clean up” their diet and still others may want to add or increase their exercise. These are all great and I will talk briefly about each one. Also, however, remember to help your emotional self. Stress is a big killer and can damage your heart. Perhaps add some breathing exercise, turn off social media, add some yoga, a peaceful stroll, remember to smile and laugh.
Physically, it is always a good idea to get your check up with either your primary care or your cardiologist. Make sure you are on track. If you do get your blood tests and check your blood pressure, what kind of number should you be looking for? Ideal glucose levels (blood sugar) are 90-110 mg/dL; ideal for total cholesterol is <200 mg/dL, HDL ( the good kind) >/=60, LDL <100mg/dL, triglycerides <149mg/dL and Blood pressure <120/80. Your doctor will educate you on where your levels need to be based on your age and any other health problems you may have.
Once you are armed with your information, you may decide to start taking better care of your health. There are all sorts of heart healthy diets out there, but pick one your can adhere to. The Mediterranean diet, the Harvard School of Public Health and Nutrition Source plate ( my personal favorite), the DASH diet, to name a few. You can also start by just being more mindful of what, why and when you are eating. Be sure and let your physician know if you plan to adopt any special eating plan.
I am not a nutrition expert but I am an exercise expert! 🙂 Exercise is Medicine and is good for your heart, lungs and blood vessels, no matter what your age, or you health condition. Get outside and walk! Play games. Ride bikes. Just move. Walk up and down your stairs in your house if you have to! Check this blog site for lots of good at home work out options. Exercise also helps your stress and anxiety levels.
You can do three good things for your heart at once if you find a walk in your community to support. You will be engaging with others (safely, of course) which is good for your stress levels, walking which is good for you physically and mentally, and helping out a charity which also makes you feel good. The Adult Congenital Heart Association has the Walk for 1 in 100. Check with you local American Heart Association to find out when their walk is and start getting in shape. Maybe you’re ready for a 5k and want to help children with your walking and your funds. The Healing Hearts Project in Jacksonville, Florida hosts a fun run and 5K February 21st to benefit families with children who have congenital heart defects. Maybe you would feel good giving to an organization that helps prevent sudden cardiac arrest in young athletes and just walk on your own. Who We Play For provides affordable EKG screenings for athletes and their mission is to provide screening for everyone, regardless of their ability to pay.
Whatever you do for Heart Month for your heart, be sure to share it with your family and friends.