This month we celebrate Go Red for Women — an initiative by the American Heart Association designed to increase women’s heart health awareness. Cardiovascular diseases claim the life of a women every 80 seconds — and 80 percent of those are preventable. As women caring for women, we want to encourage you to take charge of your heart health. Here are some actions you can start taking today.
Working out has a variety of benefits. It relieves stress, improves brain function, releases endorphins which can increase your mood, and of course helps with weight loss. Working out for 30 minutes a day, five days a week helps to strengthen your heart and increase blood circulation. Swimming, biking, running, walking, and strength training are all great forms of exercise. Find a workout regimen that fits your lifestyle, so it doesn’t feel like a chore. If you’re a new mom and simply don’t have time to attend a workout class, try at-home workouts — perfect for when your child is napping.
If you sit at a desk for the majority of your workday, try to move around as often as you can. Go for a walk at lunchtime with coworkers, take the long way to the printer, or opt-in for a standing desk if possible. If you are embarking on a road trip, be sure to make frequent stops to stretch your legs. The same goes for traveling on an airplane. Move around the cabin when you can to increase blood circulation in your legs. If you have a connecting flight, do some stretching and walk around the airport before boarding your next flight.
Strive for a balanced diet
A well-balanced diet consists of eating fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Fish, lean meats, and poultry are great sources of protein. Limit saturated fats while avoiding foods high in sodium and added sugars. Fueling your body properly and keeping portion control in mind will not only give you the energy to conquer the day, but it will help to lower your blood pressure and/or cholesterol. That’s not to say that you can’t indulge in a sweet treat or salty snack once in a while. Going to the movie theater wouldn’t be the same without eating the buttery popcorn.
Research shows that smoking can have detrimental effects on your health. The chemicals that are emitted from cigarette smoke are known to cause plaque buildup in the arteries. Smoking can increase your heart rate, tighten major arteries, and cause an irregular heart rhythm — all of which make the heart work harder than it needs to. Smoking can increase the risk of stroke, as it typically increases blood pressure. This includes secondhand smoke as well. Quitting the dangerous habit can improve your heart health immensely.
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