February is Heart Month. Did you know heart disease is the number one killer of women? Most women fear breast cancer. They routinely get their mammograms and do self checks each month. But what about your heart? What do you do to keep your heart healthy everyday? Most women, especially younger women, think heart disease is something you don?t have to think about till you are at least 70. Unfortunately, that is not the case. I have worked in cardiac rehabilitation for more than 10 years. During that time, there has been an increase of younger people having coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), heart attacks and stenting. The youngest patient I ever had was in her late 20s. It was scary that she was actually younger than me!
There are multiple risk factors for heart disease. The ones you can?t control are:
Family history of heart disease
Race (African Americans, American Indians, and Mexican Americans are more likely to have heart disease than Caucasians)
Controllable risk factors include:
High LDL or ?lousy? cholesterol and low HDL or ?healthy? choleserol
Uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure)
High C-recative protein
Uncontrolled stress and anger
Physical activity is something that is linked to all the controllable risk factors. If you are already active, great! Keep it up! Don?t let the daily ?to do? list get in the way. Make time for exercise by scheduling it in like you would a doctor?s appointment.
What should you be doing for exercise? First up: Cardio.
You should aim for at least 150 minutes each week of moderate exercise.or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise. ?An easy way to remember: 30 minutes at least five days a week. Moderate exercise can be defined as something that gets your pulse and breathing rates up. If you can sing while exercising, it?s too light! A brisk walk is considered moderate. Vigorous exercise is more like running or singles tennis. You should be able to speak in phases.
Here?s a great walking workout that can be done on the treadmill. Modify the speeds to meet your needs. You could easily adapt this for running by increasing the speed.
Next on the heart healthy agenda??Strength training.
You should be hitting the weights at least two to three times each week. Strength training increases muscular strength, endurance, independence and ability to perform a large range of activities. It reduces disability and enhances quality of life. Other benefits include increase in-bone mineral density and lean body mass. A well rounded program should involve the major muscle groups of the upper and lower body: chest press, shoulder press, triceps extension, bicep curl, lat pull-down, lower-back extension, abdominal crunch/curl, quad extension, leg press, leg curl and calf raise.? Aim for 12 to 15 repetitions, 2 to 3 sets of each exercise.
Heart disease is scary but with the proper nutrition and exercise throughout your life, you will have the essentials on how to love your heart and have it love you right back.
Angela Bekkala, is a Certified Clinical Exercise Specialist in Cardiac Rehabilitation.? Check out her blog, Happy Fit Mama to follow her fit life with one husband, twin toddlers, and a crazy chocolate lab.?