It’s February and Valentines day is coming soon! Appropriately enough, February is also designated as heart health month. Although everyone may not be celebrating Valentines day, everyone should be concerned about their heart, not only in February but every month of the year. Think about it, if your heart stops, your valentines day celebrations are over!
The heart muscle is the most important muscle in your body and your care for it is of upmost importance and should not be neglected. If you want to make sure you keep your heart healthy, strictly follow these three recommendations.
First, you must drink sufficient amounts of pure water every day. I had someone ask me recently, “what can I do to keep my cholesterol in check?” They told me that their doctor had placed them on a statin drug, but she could not take it because it hurt their muscles and made them weak. I explained that was a side effect of the medication because the statin drugs deplete the body of an essential nutrient, CoQ10, which is essential for the energy cycle in every cell in our body and especially the muscle cells. I told them the absolute best thing they could take to help keep their cholesterol in check was water. Of course they looked at me funny not understanding. I explained to them that water was essential to our health in general, and that in many cases it can do wonders for keeping cholesterol in check. Our bodies are 60-70% water, and without drinking the suggested amount of water for your body weight (which is half your body weight in ounces a day) your body will become dehydrated. Their are numerous studies that show a direct correlation between your hydration levels and your cholesterol levels. So for a healthy heart, drink your water.
Secondly, you must maintain your proper body weight. If you are overweight, or even worse obese, you are putting unnecessary stress on your heart and other vital organs in your body. Often with excess weight you will have an increase in blood pressure because the heart is having to work harder. Numerous studies have shown that just losing a few pounds can make a dramatic difference in your blood pressure and the health of you heart.
My third recommendation is to get consistent exercise, and by consistent I mean at least five days a week. Again there are numerous medical studies showing the benefits of consistent exercise on our heart. This will also help you achieve my second recommendation of maintaining a proper weight. Simply walking every day can make a world of difference in your heart health. The type of exercise that I recommend most for a healthy heart is pace or interval type exercises. Interval exercise is simply taking a physical activity and alternating between high intensity and low intensity. If you are just starting out that could be jogging for 30 seconds and walking for 30 seconds. This type of exercise is excellent for fat burning, and if done properly you can achieve the same calorie burn in less than half the time. In fact the most effective interval style of exercise is called Tabata and it only takes 4 minutes! Pick an exercise such as running, jumping jacks, pushups, sit ups, or whatever you want and do it as hard as you can for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest, then repeat 7 more times. When done properly you will be absolutely exhausted! Check out this great graphic from this even better article about interval training.