What’s more romantic than giving the gift of fitness to the one you love so that you can both be there for each other for years to come? Not to mention being healthy for your kids or to simply enjoy life more. Of course when you think of Valentine’s Day you can’t help but think of hearts, and it’s no coincidence that February is American Heart Month.
Unfortunately, more than 70 million Americans live with some form of heart disease — disease that remains the leading cause of death in the United States. During February, the American Heart Association reinforces their commitment to fighting heart disease by promoting awareness about its risks, its causes, and the ways to reduce the chance of developing this deadly illness. To learn more, visit americanheart.org.
Many of the factors that lead to heart disease, such as high blood pressure and obesity, can be controlled with common sense steps and healthy lifestyles. The organization encourages Americans to work toward four simple goals that can lead to a healthy heart:
1. Exercise daily.
2. Develop good eating habits.
3. Avoid tobacco, drugs, and excessive alcohol.
4. Take advantage of preventive screenings to detect problems early.
According to recent estimates, nearly one in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure, but because there are no symptoms, one-third of these people don’t know they have it. Many people have high blood pressure for years without knowing it. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure or kidney failure. This is why high blood pressure is often called the “silent killer.” The only way to tell if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked. Make it your goal to know your blood pressure and cholesterol (among others) as well as you know your 401(K) balance and shoe size.
What is so discouraging is the fact that although we all have the power to protect ourselves by striving toward these goals and informing ourselves, most Americans ignore that fact and suffer needlessly. Making healthy choices is simple in theory, but it takes a disciplined person to stick with it. Sadly, most people can do it, but choose not to until it’s too late. That’s why it’s so important for you to find realistic heart-health goals and to be aware of the lifestyle choices that can decrease the risk of heart disease.
Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and most Americans are not physically active enough to gain any health benefits. Swimming, cycling, jogging, skiing, dancing, walking and many other activities can help your heart. Whether it’s included in a structured exercise program or part of your daily routine, all physical activity adds up to a healthier heart.
According to the latest joint American Heart Association/American College of Sports Medicine guidelines on physical activity, all healthy adults ages 18 to 65 should be getting at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity five days out of the week.
No matter what your age or where you feel you are in your life, the best time to take action and get healthy is always right now. So this Valentine’s Day, instead of the predictable bouquet of flowers, box of candy or high fat and calorie dinner out, why not ask your spouse to join you on a walk or a bike ride around the neighborhood, or maybe go to the gym together and help and support each other through a workout. Better yet, show your kids how much you love them and take the whole family to the park for some basketball or soccer. Because nothing says “I Love You” more than taking steps today to help you live a long and healthy life with the ones you love.
And as always, I encourage you to visit these Web sites or consult your physician for more help on these and other health-related subjects.
— Mike DeCinti is the marketing director for Lumberton Radiological Associates. He can be reached at email@example.com or by calling 738-8222, ext. 258.