February is Heart Month! No, not those little cinnamon ones...
While mentions of Heart Month and heart disease in general may conjure up images of geriatric men chewing aspirin, take heed: more women than men now die from heart disease. While female-specific issues like breast cancer may get more attention, you may be surprised to learn that heart disease and stroke kill more Canadian women each year than all cancers combined. The Heart & Stroke Foundation’s Heart Truth Campaign
raises awareness among women of the serious threat of heart disease and how we might reduce our risk.
So, if you’d rather live out your golden years traveling, drinking fine wines and generally not being bedridden, read on... I present to you 10 ways to heart your heart (you might even lose a few pounds in the process). See your family doctor.
Ask to have your cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure and weight taken, and tell your doctor you are concerned about lowering your risk of heart disease. Talk about it.
Your risk increases if immediate family members developed heart disease or suffered a stroke before old age. Have coffee with mom & dad – let them see the grandchildren – and double-check that family history. Butt out.
You’ve heard it before. Smoking is the biggest risk factor for heart disease. Don’t be afraid of weight gain: regular exercisers are twice as likely to quit and stay smoke-free. Get moving.
Begin with 10 minute walks before work, on your lunch break, or after dinner. Build up to 30-60 minutes of any continuous exercise most days of the week. Schedule it in your blackberry and stick to it! Just say “no.”
You don’t get to be a yummy mummy without taking on the world - work, kids, housework, fitness, money.... Learn to delegate and set boundaries. Housekeepers may prevent heart disease! Learn to play.
Little burst of activity burn calories, which lowers body fat, which reduces heart disease risk! Run up the stairs at work, teach your kids to do push ups, or toss a ball for Fido. It all adds up. Keep your girlish figure.
You’re probably focused on your waistline for other, more bikini-related reasons, but reduce your fat intake and get more active to whittle that waist to under 35 inches; any bigger ups your risk. Relieve some pressure.
Learn your blood pressure and ask your doctor how to manage it with medicine, exercise and reduced sodium. High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke and a major risk factor for heart disease. Step away from the candy bar.
A healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables and fiber will help control your blood sugar and maintain a healthy weight. Diabetics are 3-7 times more likely to get heart disease. Pump some iron.
Losing weight can be challenging and keeping it off is almost as big a struggle. Add full-body strength training to your routine, at least twice per week, to raise your metabolism so the weight comes off and stays off.
The Heart & Stroke Foundation wants your money! Donate online through their secure site. Karma is not a known risk factor for heart disease but, hey, it can’t hurt.