February is American Heart Month and Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the world’s number one killer; causing 1 in 3 deaths in the US population each year, according to the CDC. Cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term that includes a variety of conditions that effect both the heart (cardio) and function of blood vessels (vascular) in the body.
If you had a killer on your doorstep, wouldn’t you fight for your life and protect those you love? Well you can win the fight against heart disease before you are diagnosed and do just that. You could be at an elevated risk for CVD if you have been told by a doctor that you have any of these key risk factors: high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, diabetes and/or tobacco use in any form. Other risk factors include obesity/overweight, pre-diabetes, unhealthy nutrition and not getting enough physical activity.
Physical activity is an important example of how you can put your dukes up and fight this killer. Here are 10 key facts about fighting cardiovascular disease with heart-healthy exercise:
- To improve your cardiovascular fitness, incorporate 2.5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity into your life each week, the equivalent of 150 minutes per week. You can break it up into 10 or 15 minute segments at a time and still reap some benefits.
- Moderate intensity activity gets your heart rate up and you breathe harder. Ideally you can still talk but not sing at this level of exertion.
- All types of physical activity will improve heart health even in small doses. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, briskly walk around the block, kayak, dance, cycle, hike, etc.
- No matter your size, shape or ability – you can benefit from movement.
- Doing SOME activity is better than doing NO activity whether you have heart disease or not.
- Walking is the simplest activity and it costs nothing. Just lace up a pair of comfy shoes and go!
- If it’s been a while since you’ve been active, start out at a comfortable pace and build up intensity and duration gradually.
- If you have been diagnosed with CVD or any type of heart disease, talk with your doctor before beginning any exercise to determine which types and amounts are best for you.
- According to this article, the chances of developing cardiovascular disease increase with a sedentary lifestyle. Participants in a study reporting more than 23 hours per week of sedentary behavior had a 37% greater risk of CVD morbidity than those participants reporting less than 11 hours/week.
- Wearing a heart rate monitor can help optimize your efforts and track your progress. You can also connect your tracker at NGoodHealth.com.
Your best line of defense against cardiovascular disease is to be more active, maintain a healthy weight and eat a diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, includes lean protein sources and avoid added sugars, saturated fat and processed food. If you need help getting started, please feel free to reach out to your team of wellness specialists at N Good Health; we are always happy to help!