woman holding decorative heart

Improve Heart Health in Unique Ways

One of the leading causes of death is cardiovascular disease. Although we cannot change certain risk factors such as age and family history, we can help prevent cardiovascular disease and hope to live a long, healthy life. You probably know that  exercise and a healthy diet can help keep our hearts strong, but there are other means to improve heart health that you may not know. Here are six unique ways you can keep your heart healthy.

 

Crank up the music


Several studies have shown that music can have several positive effects on our bodies including lowering stress and even blood pressure. A study at Massachusetts General Hospital also found that heart patients who were confined to bed had slower heart rates, lower blood pressure, and less distress when they listened to music for 30 minutes each day. 1 So, pull out your favorite tunes, sit back and enjoy the improved heart health! 

 

Have a laugh


We have all heard the Old Testament proverb that “laughter is the best medicine” and have experienced positive emotional effects of having a laugh. Science is proving that there are more than just emotional benefits to laughter, however. Consequently, laughter can also helps our hearts pump stronger!  As we laugh, our blood vessels enlarge in diameter. This in return increases the blood flow like when we participate in aerobic exercise.

 

The University of Maryland also conducted a study and discovered that when people laugh at a funny movie scene, they experience improved blood flow. 2 So, head to the movies, turn on your favorite comedian or sitcom, and enjoy some laughs! 

 

Be kind


We know that high stress levels are not good for our hearts. When we are upset, cortisol, our stress hormone, increases and our blood pressure and inflammation rises. When we experience positive emotions though, our oxytocin levels rise, helping to improve heart health, and our cortisol levels drop. Being kind to others makes us feel better emotionally and just might improve heart health.


Consider the Mediterranean Diet


Many studies have had positive heart health conclusions when studying the Mediterranean diet. According to a 2013 study from Spain, a Mediterranean style of eating can reduce heart disease risk by as much as 30%. 3

The Mediterranean diet consists of green vegetables, nuts, avocados, fruits, beans, high-fiber grains, olives and olive oil,  and an occasional side of small, wild fish such as salmon. In this diet, individuals seldom consume red meat, poultry, dairy products, eggs, sugary foods and drinks, and refined flours.


Love a Pet


Could your favorite canine or feline improve heart health? According to the American Heart Association (AHA), they can!  Studies show that having a pet can relieve stress, help increase fitness levels, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and increase happiness and wellbeing. 4

Studies on dog owners show that they tend to live longer, have lower risks for heart disease, better cholesterol profiles, less hypertension and are less vulnerable to stress. The reason for these positive results is not entirely clear, but it could be due to the fact that dog owners are generally more active than non-owners.  Either way, owning a pet who loves you unconditionally has plentiful emotional benefits.

If you’re not in a position to own a dog, local shelters often need volunteers to play with dogs. Consider playing with a friends dog or taking up dog walking and earn some extra cash too!

 

Offer a Hug


Oxytocin levels rise and cortisol level drop when we give and receive hugs. In a study by the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, participants who hugged their partners had a slower heart rate up to 10 beats per minute than those who did not hug their partners.5

So, grab someone around you who needs a hug, and enjoy the improved heart health!

 

Good health is often about incorporating small changes in our routine. We hope this article encourages you to add some of these activities to your routine and  improve your heart health today!

Learn about Heart and Vascular Services at CCMH by visiting CCMHHealth.com/Heart-And-Vascular/.

 

Sources

1 Harvard Health Letter. Harvard Health Publishing. Nov. 2009. Using music to tune the heart.

2 Stein, Rob. Los Angeles Times. Apr. 2005.  Laughter helps blood go with the flow.

3 John Hopkins Medicine. Take Your Diet to the Mediterranean.

4 The American Heart Association. Apr. 2018. Can Your Pet Help You Be Healthier?

5 McColm, Jan. Endeavors. Jan. 2004. A Hug a Day  

 

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

runner on mountain path

Activities To Improve Heart Health

February is the month we dedicate as American Heart Month. Throughout February, we would like to encourage you to participate in activities to improve the health of your heart.

The heart is so important because it contains some of the body’s most valuable muscles. These muscles and the valves of the heart keep our blood moving and sustains our lives 24/7. As with all other muscles, we can improve the functionality of the heart with exercise.

Many of us are not fond of exercise, but it is very good for our bodies. Not only does regular exercise just help you live healthier and feel better, but it also helps protect you from the #1 killer in America, heart disease, and it can even add years to your life!

 

How should you exercise to help the heart?

 

If you are someone with a medical condition including a heart condition or diabetes, make an appointment to discuss what exercise routine is best in your situation.

If you are new to exercising regularly, start slow. We stick better to routines that are not too vigorous and overwhelmingly challenging. Aim for participating in 30 minutes of exercise each day.

Remember, any movement is good for you. You may be exercising and not even really realize it. As you participate in exercise, the large muscles of your body cause your heart to beat faster which strengthens them.

Don’t participate in an aerobic activity that you do not enjoy. This increases the chances of you abandoning the routine. To impact your heart, find time for moderate aerobic activity most days of the week for a total of around 2.5 hours. If you have a busy schedule, try breaking it into a few 10 to 15 minute sessions.

How does the heart benefit from exercise?


Exercise often leads to weight loss. If you’re overweight, losing even just a few pounds may significantly impact heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Exercise also reduces stress. Stress can contribute to other conditions which are factors in heart disease.

Lower blood pressure is also a positive result of exercise. 30-60 minutes of aerobic activity is recommended to help bring high blood pressure into healthy range.

Lower cholesterol is also a positive benefit of exercise.


What are some heart friendly forms of moderate exercise?


Dancing

Skiing

Yard work

Hiking

Softball

Tennis (doubles)

Swimming

Golfing without a golf cart

Bicycling

Moderate walking (around 3.5 mph)


What are some more vigorous forms of heart healthy exercise?


If you participate in all vigorous activities, aim for 75 minutes of exercise each week to benefit your heart.

Vigorous activities include:


Soccer

Basketball

Tennis (singles)

Cross-country skiing

Brisk walking (about 4.5 mph)

Jogging

Heavy yard work

Stair climbing

Hiking uphill

Bicycling over 10 mph

Jumping rope

 


How Do I Know If I’m Helping My Heart?


To ensure you are benefitting from aerobic activity  and increasing your heart health, track your heart rate. First, determine your resting heart rate. You can do so by counting your heart beats for 10 seconds and multiply that number by six.

Normal resting heart rate for adults is from 60 to 100 beats per minute. A lower resting heart rate is usually the result of more efficient heart function and cardiovascular fitness. A well-trained athlete might have a normal resting heart rate closer to 40 beats per minute for example.

Many factors influence heart rate, and there is a wide range of normal. Nevertheless, an unusually high or low heart rate can indicate a problem. Consult your doctor if your resting heart rate is above 100 beats a minute consistently or if your resting heart rate is below 60 beats a minute and you’re not a trained athlete.

During exercise, your heart rate should increase to about 50 to 85% of your maximum heart rate based on your age. For moderate intensity exercise, your target heart rate should increase to 50 to 70% of your maximum heart rate. For vigorous exercise, your target heart rate should be 70 to 85% of your maximum heart rate.

You can determine what your maximum heart rate should be for your age by viewing this article by the American Heart Association.

When you first start exercising, aim for the lower number for your age range. As your fitness improves, you can gradually aim for the higher number. No matter your age, it’s never too late to make heart health a goal.

If you would like to learn about heart and vascular services offered at CCMH, please visit https://www.ccmhhealth.com/heart-and-vascular/.

 

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

hands rolling yoga mat

Fitness Apps to Jump Start Your 2019 Fitness Goals

Even if you do not regularly make resolutions in the new year, it is always a great idea to make new fitness goals each year. After all, exercise does not only reduce your risk of many physical health problems. It can be great for mental health as well. To help you meet your goals, here are ten fitness apps to help you discover new workouts.  We hope these fitness apps encourage you to reach your ultimate level of health in 2019!

 

Strava

Strava is often top chosen among fitness apps for social training. It will allow you to connect with athletes across the world. The community includes millions of runners, cyclists and others that record their activities. This handy app tracks several stats.  Check your speed, pace, distance, elevation, and how many calories you burn. You can compare your performance with other users and connect with the community too. Post highlights and photos of your activity. Friendly competition can also motivate you in this app that encourages you to try for the best time on the leaderboard.

 

Sworkit

The American College of Sports Medicine named Sworkit a #1 rated workout app. After entering your personal data, you can input goals. The app then introduces various exercises for cardio, yoga, stretching and strength training. Focus your workouts on being “Stronger,” “Fitter” or “Leaner”.

 

RunKeeper

RunKeeper allows you to track any physical activity. It also gives you the ability to build and find new outdoor routes to keep your workout exciting. Make custom training plans based on a survey you complete, or choose from ready-made schedules. You can also join challenges, win rewards, and share your progress with friends. You may also enjoy the motivation of inviting friends to join. Encourage and cheer each other on along the way.

 

Charity Miles

Charity Miles is unique among fitness apps. Not only will it help you feel better physically, but you also make a difference while using it. Users of this app raised more than $2 million for 40 different charities from doing hard core runs to simply walking down the block to run an errand. Find your activity, duration, distance and the total amount earned by the community for your charity on the app’s dashboard.

 

Zombies, Run!

Zombies, Run! is also unique among fitness apps. It is both a running game and adventure. This app will get your adrenaline and heart pumping. It presents you with a story in which your mission is to gather supplies, rescue survivors, and defend their homes post-zombie apocalypse. You will “save” hundreds of lives as the truth about the apocalypse unfolds. Your mission and music plays through your headphones. If  zombies chase you, you better pick up the pace!

 

Yoga Studio

It may cost a few bucks, but yogis will say Yoga Studio is a “must have” among Yoga fitness apps. Yoga Studio contains over 70 ready-made yoga and meditation classes for beginners to advanced users. Classes are customizable and may focus on strength, flexibility, relaxation, balance, or a combination of all. Commentary in the app provides easy-to-follow instructions for poses as well as how to move from one to the next. There are also modifications, benefits and cautions of each pose.

 

J&J Official 7 Minute Workout

Chris Jordan, director of exercise physiology at the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute, designed the J&J Official 7 Minute Workout. HIIT research was used to create this app. This research shows that short bursts of hard exercise with short recoveries can improve aerobic fitness quickly. Jump right into a 7-minute workout. Give a thumbs up or thumbs down for exercises. This app also contains video tutorials that teach you how to perform the 72 exercises effectively and safely. Your progression is tracked in the performance dashboard.

 

Carrot Fit

Enjoy a laugh while getting fit with a sadistic computer-generated coach. This app inspires, threatens, ridicules and bribes. It  promises you will get fit or else! Based on the science-based methods such as the J&J Official 7 Minute Workout, these 7 minutes also include laughable pop-culture themed activities. Track your steps and also your weight loss. Face Carrot’s judgement if you do poorly or receive rewards with app upgrades and cat facts.

 

Couch to 5K

Couch to 5k is well-known yet popular among fitness apps. The goal of Couch to 5K is to help you go from a couch potato to running a 5K in 9 weeks by following their easy and fun plan. The app intends for beginners to spend 30 minutes working out, three times per week, to get 5K-ready.

 

JEFIT Workout Planner Gym Log

JEFIT allows you to log weight and repetitions on each gym machine in one-click. Track your workout routines and also your rest time. Also log and graph your body measurements while you progress. With access to over 2,000 exercises, the dashboard displays weight lifting and cardio exercises. It also gives you step-by-step instructions and tips. There are millions of users to connect with as well as the option to invite friends. Stay motivated by sharing your training progress and comparing stats.

 

It is also important to have regular check-ups with a doctor to assess your health. If you have not had a checkup in awhile, make it a goal to schedule an appointment with a CCMH physician this week! Find a list of our providers at https://www.ccmhhealth.com/providers/.

 

Disclaimer
The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.
Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.
While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.