February isand a great time to take care of your heart. The heart beats approximately 100,000 times a day to pump blood through the 60,000 miles of blood vessels. Just like other parts of the body the cardiovascular system is made stronger and more efficient with healthy behaviors like exercise and healthy eating and is negatively affected by unhealthy lifestyle choices like a sedentary lifestyle, smoking and poor eating habits. Just like the rest of the body the cardiovascular system experiences age related changes resulting in less efficient blood flow and greater risk of cardiovascular disease. The National Institute on Aging reported that 40% of all deaths in people between 65 and 74 are related to heart disease and 60% of deaths in people over 85 are related to heart disease
Although age related changes account for some of the risk of heart disease, lifestyle also plays an important role. The World Health Organization says that modifiable risk factors such as unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and smoking account for 80% of diagnosed cardiovascular disease. Other risk factors that can be modified by lifestyle choices include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and obesity.
The good news is that cardiovascular disease can be prevented and existing cardiovascular disease can be managed by participating in regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight and healthy diet, avoiding smoking, and lowering cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Exercise has been proven to play a vital role in the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease.
The American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommend that all people participate in 150 min of moderate intensity physical activity a week, to decrease risk of cardiovascular disease. This would include activities that increase heart rate and blood flow such as walking, jogging, swimming or riding a bike. ACSM also recommends that anyone not accustomed to regular exercise or experiencing symptoms that might be related to cardiovascular disease (dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain) consult a medical professional prior to beginning an exercise program.
Kimberly Huff, MS, CSCS
Heron Point of Chestertown