Dear Church Family,
February is “Healthy Heart Month” in the healthcare world. What are you doing to keep your heart healthy? The heart is an organ that you cannot live without. If it is not in good working order it can severely reduce your quality of life. So, taking a little time to tend to a “heart tune-up” can go a long way in enhancing quality of life as we age.
As you might expect, those two things I constantly nag you about, diet and exercise, are the top items to keep your heart in good shape. What you put in your mouth today can affect your tomorrow. If you are overweight, it puts added stress on your heart. Over the long term, this will damage your heart. The main way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you take in, and do it slowly. The weight loss plans that say you will drop 30 lbs. in a month are either lying or extremely unhealthy. In the long run, fast weight loss generally goes back on just as fast. Avoid trans fats and keep saturated fats at a minimum. These are some of the culprits leading to plaque buildup in the arteries. Exercise helps burn calories and keeps your heart in shape (it is a muscle that needs to get pushed a little now and then). As for the excuse, “I cannot exercise due to other health problems”, no one expects you to run a marathon. However, you may be able to lift some light weights while sitting in a chair, or raise your legs and hold them up for 10 seconds x20 times. I guarantee you will work your heart muscle and burn some calories. The National Institute on Aging has a website Go4Life that can assist you in modifying an exercise program to fit your capabilities.
Other things you can do to keep you heart in shape are: get enough sleep, see a doctor about sleep apnea, seek help if you have high stress issues (research shows constant high levels of stress can contribute to heart disease and cancer formation), get yearly health screenings, quit smoking, use moderation when drinking alcohol, do not ignore symptoms of a heart problem, and strive for a positive attitude!
Some examples of symptoms that could indicate a heart problem are: new and unexplained shortness of breath, dizziness, unexplained and long lasting fatigue, new swelling in feet/legs, periods of confusion, fainting, new onset of heart palpitations or chest pain, and an erratic heartbeat.
I wish you all a Happy Heart Month. God Bless! Beth