By Curtis Child
DHAC Exercise Physiologist
One of the most important factors for healthy aging is having a fit heart. The heart is one of the most important organs in your body. Its main function is to send oxygen-rich blood to your tissue and organs.
The better your heart works, the better every other part of you will work! Having a healthy heart is something both adults and youths need to think about. Heart health should start at a young age and when taught early on, it’s more likely to be embedded in children’s brains. They will consider it to be just as important as brushing their teeth or putting on a seatbelt.
That being said what can you do to maintain a healthy heart?
1. You should eat a healthy diet HIGH in fruits and vegetables and LOW in saturated fats and hydrogenated oils. If it’s packaged and will not go bad for a few weeks, be suspicious and read the dietary label.
2. Maintain a healthy weight. To many of my clients I like to give the analogy of their heart as a car engine. If you tried to put a small engine in an oversized car it would not run efficiently and would struggle for power.
3. STRESS! Most of us can relate to this one! Whether its work, bills, or family, it’s the new certainty of life these days! Your job is to find healthy and effective coping strategies. I tend to go towards more active techniques like karate or walking while listening to my favorite music. I have heard positive feedback from clients taking Tai Chi flow, yoga and even kickboxing.
4. The next and I believe most important factor for maintaining a healthy heart is cardiovascular exercise. Some examples are walking, jogging, swimming, or biking. Your goal should be three to five days a week for 30-45 minutes. I recommend planning five or six days a week of cardio and if for some reason you miss a day you will still be on top. Always consult with your physician before exercise and be sure to maintain a level that you can handle without getting overworked or overheated.
This Valentines day, choose your heart to love. Remember, it’s there for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Time to say “Thank You” and give your heart what it wants and needs….a healthy lifestyle!