February is Heart Month!

There are a number of ways to protect yourself from heart disease, including:

Get 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity, most days of the week.  It doesn’t have to be vigorous; in fact, it can be a 10 minute walk, 3 times a day.  Studies indicate that as fitness levels increase, risk of a cardiovascular event goes down, so once in a while, be sure to challenge yourself by picking up the pace (walking faster, or even throwing in a light jog), or finding an incline.

Strength train.  Surprisingly, strength training reduces blood pressure and some studies show it might even decrease cholesterol (LDL, the bad one).  

Yoga.  Studies show individuals participating in a yoga program experience a decrease in blood pressure.

Limit your red meat consumption to twice a week.  And, while you are at it, limit saturated fat intake from things like cheese and lard.

Many people tell me they can’t strength train because they don’t belong to a gym.  There are a number of effective exercises that can be done using body weight exercises, including squats, planking, push-ups, lunges, crunches, and a number of others.  Resistance tubing can be purchased for less than $25 for movements such as standing rows, triceps extensions, biceps curls, and chest presses.  Taking the time to develop strength will keep not only your muscles strong, but your bones and ligaments as well.  Sarcopenia (muscle loss) increases risk of falling in the elderly and is one of the primary reasons seniors are unable to live on their own.  If time is an issue, carving out 30 minutes, twice a week is enough to challenge your muscles and keep you strong.  Circuit training (performing one exercise right after another, without rest) is an extremely effective way to get through many muscle groups in a short amount of time.  Because of the amount of time an average person sits in a day, I strongly recommend choosing exercises that require you to stand rather than sit.  Not only is this more functional (you will rarely be in a situation when you are pushing a heavy door from a seated position), it also requires more energy and challenges postural muscles, which hold you up.  Challenge yourself physically to keep yourself strong and healthy longer.

Yours in health and wellness,

Jennifer Pilotti