February is always a poignant time for me to reflect upon my heart health. Heart problems run in my family, and truth be told, I have a heart condition myself. Since February is American Heart Health Month, it’s a great time to pause and consider what we are doing to take care of our hearts.
Make Heart Health a priority
After all, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 610,000 people die every year in the U.S. because of heart disease. That’s one out of every fourth deaths. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the country. These statistics are overwhelming, and frankly, frightening.
Add to that the fact that Americans suffer around 735,000 heart attacks each year, and it’s clear to see that we as a nation need to cut the excuses and start giving our hearts a little more love and attention.
The Awesome Muse turned to Sarah Walls, a personal trainer and strength and conditioning coach for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics basketball team for her tips on what we can do to improve our heart health.
Sarah has some great advice for how to incorporate activities that will help our heart health everyday. Let’s turn it over to Sarah.
No More Excuses: Tips for Having a Healthy Heart, a Guest Post by Sarah Walls
Most people know what it takes for a healthy heart, but they are often filled with excuses of why they don’t take steps to make it happen. Taking care of our heart health should be a top priority for everyone.
According to the American Heart Association, someone has a stroke every 40 seconds in the country. By the time you finish reading this, there’s a good chance that three people in the country will have had a stroke. They also report that every four minutes, someone in the country dies of a stroke.
6 Tips for improving your heart health
Many people feel they don’t have time to do what it takes to have a healthy heart, or they don’t want to put forth the effort. But without committing to it, they are putting themselves at risk of being one of the statistics, and possibly one of the fatal ones. Here are some tips for having a healthy heart:
Be physically active.
- Your heart is a muscle, and it needs exercise to be strong and healthy. The exercise that keeps it healthy is aerobic, such as brisk walking, running, biking, etc. Aim for getting at least 150 minutes per week of aerobic exercise to have a healthy heart. Find something you enjoy doing and then make it a priority to engage in it on a regular basis.
- If you have a desk job where you sit for long periods of time, set a timer so that for five minutes each hour you are up out of your chair moving around. Do a few exercises, take a walk down the hall, pace the floor as you talk on the phone, etc. It’s also important to include a couple of days of resistant training in your workout routine.
- Eating a healthy diet is important to having a healthy heart. Aim for eating a lot of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants that will help protect your health, so don’t skimp on them or in eating a variety of them.
- It’s important to learn to manage your stress and be more mindful. Focus on ways to reduce stress, such as doing yoga, Tai Chi, or meditation, and you will find yourself calmer and more able to take on the day. When you feel stressed, your body releases the hormone called cortisol. When you are chronically stressed, you are getting a lot of that hormone, which increases risks of a heart attack.
- It’s also helpful to practice having gratitude by focusing on the things you are thankful for in life. Some people find it helpful to keep a gratitude journal, where they write these things down daily.
- It’s important to get enough sleep each night in order to help have a healthy heart. According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep is essential for a healthy heart. Those who don’t get enough of it can have disruptions in metabolism, blood pressure, and inflammation, which increase heart disease risks. If you have sleep issues that are preventing you from getting enough, be sure to address those problems to reduce the risks.
We have to have a healthy heart to get the most out of life and live up to our full potential. Having a healthy heart is part of living an overall healthy lifestyle. This is something I’m passionate about and have helped many people to be successful with. A healthy heart starts with making a commitment to yourself. Remember, if it matters to you then you will find a way. If it doesn’t, then you will find an excuse.
A healthy heart starts with making a commitment to yourself. Remember, if it matters to you then you will find a way. If it doesn’t, then you will find an excuse.
About Sarah Walls
Sarah Walls has over 15 years experience in coaching and personal training. Owner of SAPT Strength & Performance Training, Inc, founded in 2007, she offers coaching to develop athletes, adult programs, team training, and has an online coaching program.
She is also the strength and conditioning coach for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, and has over eight years of experience working as an NCAA D1 strength and conditioning coach and personal trainer.
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