Happy Valentine’s Day! Today might be about sweethearts but the entire month of February is about heart health. According to The Heart Foundation, “heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States” and it is one of the most preventable. Here are a few keys to a happy heart…
Know your family health history. That might not seem like much of a key; health history isn’t something that you can directly affect but that saying “forewarned is forearmed” certainly applies here. Having a parent or sibling with heart disease can increase your risk. Oh, and this one isn’t just about knowing, it’s about sharing; your family history is something to share with your doctor!
Make heart-healthy choices. What was the first thing you thought of when you read that? My first thought was food and that was quickly followed by exercise. Hot on the heels of those two things was the doozy…stress management! Let’s talk about those things a bit more; they are the most actionable keys to your heart health.
The food piece might feel tricky because we are bombarded with different diets, ideas and solutions - it may seem like the landscape of what foods are “good for you” is constantly changing. The overall simplest answer: eat nutrient-rich foods from a variety of food groups. The more processed food is, the less chance it falls into that category. If you’re interested in more details, The American Heart Association is a great place to start. Also, don’t forget to talk to your doctor!
Thought number two for me was exercise. This is another place that might feel like boggy ground. How to get started, what kind, how often…there are a lot of questions that may come up. This is another place where it’s important to talk to your doctor, especially if you haven’t been particularly active in a while. Exercise is good but it can also be a strain on the heart so make sure you are ready. Start small. The most important thing is just to move. Need some ideas? Pop over to the AHA’s Physical Activity page!
So, what was the other thing that popped into my mind when I thought about heart-healthy choices? Stress-management! It’s easy to forget about or overlook but might be one of the most important things you can do for your overall wellness. A body’s response to stress involves hormones that increase the glucose levels in the blood, shunt resources away from the digestive and immune systems, and more. In fact, there isn’t a system in the body that isn’t affected by cortisol, one of the primary stress hormones. Long-term stress can lead to a host of issues, some of which directly impact the heart and blood vessels. For more on stress, you can check out Mayo Clinic’s Stress Basics.
While we can’t help you with your family health history, eating the right foods or getting more exercise, we can provide support around stress management! Our Signature Stress Relief massage was designed specifically for that purpose and Swedish massage is geared toward relaxation and it has a beneficial impact on the cardiovascular system. Or you could add aromatherapy to a massage for deeper relaxation, anxiety reduction and stress relief. Zero Balancing is a fantastic modality for bringing you back to a point of balance. Not sure what modality (type of massage) would work best for you? Just call us! Talk to one of our massage therapists, schedule your session, and
Let us make you a priority!
IMAGE from: The Heart Foundation