February is American Heart Month and it is the perfect time for you to start thinking about improving your heart health. At Natural Fit Therapy we are dedicated to helping you stay healthy, active, and independent. So today in Honor of National Heart Health Month I am going to talk about 4 tips to help maintain a healthy heart. Making small changes in your habits can make a real difference to your ticker.
- Reduce Stress
Some stress is not a bad thing. For example, light stress such as exercises will actually help keep your heart strong. However, constant stress can put extra strain on your heart and can be damaging in the long run. If you find yourself stressed out and anxious most of the time it very well could be causing extra stress on your heart as well. When we are under stress our bodies go into a “fight or flight” response and our heart has to work harder than usual. If we never take time to de-stress then our heart is always working harder than it should. Take some time to relax, get a massage, meditate, or do something fun to help reduce your stress and give your heart a break.
You probably aren’t surprised to hear that exercise is something that can help keep you heart healthy. But what type of exercises and for how long and how often? Well let’s start by keeping it simple. Being sedentary is one of the worse things for your heart. If you aren’t exercising regularly then start moving. Something is better than nothing. If you are currently exercising…move more. Simple enough? Ok, ok you want a little more guidance… every exercise program should include Cardiorespiratory Exercises, Resistance Exercises, Flexibility Exercises, and Neuromotor Exercises (Balance). However, for today I am going to talk strictly about Cardiorespiratory Exercises.
According to ASCM adults should get at least 150 min of moderate intensity exercises per week. This can be accomplished through 30-60 min moderate exercises intensity 5x per week or 20-60 min of vigorous exercise 3 days per week. Find something you enjoy: brisk walking, bike riding, swimming, dancing, or join an exercise class. However, make sure the intensity of exercises is at least moderate. My rule of thumb is you should be able to carry on a very short conversation taking frequent breaks in conversation to catch your breath. If you are going for a stroll and can talk normally the entire time, then you aren’t working hard enough. Generally speaking you should gradually progress into any exercise program and add slowly as tolerable by you and your body. If you have questions about starting an exercises program, we can help.
- Eat Healthy
Again you probably aren’t surprised to see that eating healthy is on the list of tips for heart health. However, when it comes to being healthy sticking to the basics will take you a long way. The newest fad diet is normally just that… A FAD. Try to eat foods in their natural form. Try to avoid processed food especially those with added sugar. Remove processed sugar from you diet. When sugar is removed from its fiber source and it’s not naturally occurring in foods, it becomes toxic to the body.Foods such as fish, whole grains, fruit and vegetables are all great for maintaining heart health. In addition, there are several studies that show treating yourself to a glass of red wine or dark chocolate can be good for your heart. However, be careful with those last two, moderation is key!
- Manage your pain
This one might not seem as obvious to most people. Why can being in pain be bad for your heart? As I mentioned before managing stress is very important for maintaining a healthy heart. Well, pain is a big source of stress. If you can reduce your pain, then in turn you will reduce your stress. Secondly our staff at Natural Fit Therapy are constantly hearing from clients that the reason they don’t exercise more is that they are in pain. If you are in pain, you are not going to be able to keep up with the exercise program to keep your heart healthy.
Many times people think Natural Fit Therapy and Physical Therapy in general is all about exercises. Yes, exercise is a big part of what we do. However, there are other things we can do including manual therapy that can help reduce your pain. What many people don’t realize is that our team at Natural Fit Therapy can help you reduce pain, in fact we can figure out the cause of your pain and work to not only reduce the pain but keep it from coming back so that you can stay healthy, active, and independent.
- Reduce Stress
If you are unsure if your pain can be helped with physical therapy or if you are ready to make a change and start exercising to keep your heart healthy but don’t know where to start, please call us at (512) 730-0231 to schedule a FREE phone consultation with one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy.