February is American Heart Month. Funny how it has to be specified as American Heart Month, but if you notice the statistics for heard disease, you’ll understand why. Cardiovascular disease as a whole (meaning heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure too), it the number one killer of Americans. Not only does this preventable lifestyle disease break families cause untimely death, but costs the United States nearly 300 Billion each year from health care services, medications, and lost productivity.
The problem with heart disease is that it is a silent killer. Meaning most people have no symptoms or idea that they even have heart disease and therefore do little to improve their health. It is often a heart attack that finally alerts one to exactly how unhealthy they, in fact, really are. While cholesterol and blood pressure screenings are promoted and encouraged, high scores can be misleading as they can be attributed to stress and poor diet.
Instead of waiting for a crisis, here are some heart helpful tips to be proactive:
1. Get up and Move! Even diabetes has been shown to not have as strong correlation to weight and diet, but actually how much exercise you get. Get your body moving (at least 30 minutes and make sure to break a sweat) is all that you need to do to make a pivotal turn-a-round in your overall health. Exercise will also lower stress and aid in beating depression. It improves circulation and will keep fluids from building up in your legs. Get dancing, walking, anything!
2. You are what you Eat. Are you fast, cheap, and easy? I think not! Instead of scrambling for a quick meal (or guilty pleasure – which is ok sometimes, not all the time), make sure to take the time to plan your meals. Great websites like www.plantoeat.com make it almost too easy and planning an entire week can take about 5 minutes to plan. Shop for the whole week and you’ll see your budget get healthier too! Short on time? Marathon cook for the week and you’ll save time later!
3. Say NO to Stress! Stress puts your body in a chronic state of “fight and flight” and just like you fighting off a lion (or running from one), your body undergoes a series of physiological changes to deal with that stress. Our bodies act like this because it is our primitive part of our brain that handles this. To deal with potential trauma our body increases the blood’s ability to clot (look out sludgy blood!), and increases blood flow for strength (increased blood pressure), and shuts down our immune system and digestive system (howdy colds/flu..you name it). This is where exercise and chiropractic can help is by shutting down this chronic stress cycle. The adjustment and exercise can do this. Make sure to ask me how on your next visit.
Other stress busting ideas:
- drink more water at work = more potty breaks/breathers
- DON’T use food (you’re not a dog)
- prayer and meditation
- lower your shoulders (if you just did, that means you were holding them up from stress!)
There’s lots of great resources out on the web but make sure you look at your sources!
- Go AS, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2014 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2013
- CDC. Vital Signs: avoidable deaths from heart disease, stroke, and hypertensive disease—United States, 2001–2010. MMWR. 2013;62(35);721–7.