For those of you who don’t know, February is Heart Health Month. El corazón is one of the most important organs in the body. While you still can, be mindful of it, take care of it and learn how to keep it strong and pumping para una vida más larga y saludable.
Keep your heart going by doing simple things.
1. If you smoke, stop smoking. You already know that it’s bad for your heart and lungs. In addition, it causes damage to your blood cells and also increases a potential for plaque build up in your arteries. Your arteries help to pump blood through your body, which carry oxygen and allows your body to work properly. Combined with a not so healthy diet and high cholesterol, smoking can be the main cause of heart attacks.
2. Dance. Exercise gets oxygen moving through your body and helps to keep you health on all levels, especially when you got your heart working. Dancing is a fun and energizing way to get your blood pumping, especially on those Saturday mornings while you’re cleaning your house. Singing along to your favorite songs on top of dancing to them also helps improve stamina in your lungs, which in return helps your heart.
Any kind of aerobic exercise pumps oxygen into your body, keeps your blood pressure down, increases circulation, helps reduce stress and tension, and helps improve your sleep.
3. Sleep. Who doesn’t like sleep? When you sleep your body reconstructs itself. Your body regulates itself on all levels– from insulin level regulation to regulation of blood pressure. If you don’t sleep, this may create a chaotic environment inside your body, bringing more stress.
When you’re tired, you tend to eat more high-calorie foods and over-caffeinated yourself to keep you going; two things that are not good for the heart. Studies have shown that you need at least seven hours of sleep to keep your heart healthy.
4. Chill out. Anger gets you nowhere. Anger elevates your blood pressure and releases hormones in your system that is commonly called the “fight or flight” response. Too much of that kind of stress on the body leads to atherosclerosis, or plaque development in the arteries. And as mentioned before, that’s not good for the corazón because it puts you at risk for heart disease.
5. Edúcate. Learn about your family history. Did anyone in the last two or three generations have heart problems? Be sure to ask about what your abuelitas and abuelitos passed away from. Be conscious of heart attacks and strokes, both common forms of heart disease. If the problems run in your family, it is a good idea to ask your doctor about other options for you to prevent the onset of heart complications.
If you have diabetes, take a higher precaution with your heart. Do all of the above and in addition, make sure to add more fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains to your diet. Lessen the salt, lessen the grease and the fat. Recuerda, if you have diabetes, know that you have a two to four times higher risk of developing heart disease and are also at risk for stroke.
Learn as much as possible if you are at risk for developing heart disease. Education is the key to prevention and wellness.