February is American Heart Month. Somewhat ironically, it is also the month I lost my own father to a massive heart attack. He was 47, and truthfully not very healthy. He was a smoker, enjoyed a traditional meat and potatoes diet, and never did exercise for the purpose of fitness or health.
I’m not naïve to the fact that not every illness is preventable; we are not invincible and there are some things just out of our control. I also hold a strong and proven belief that we do have a lot within our control. We have the choice to eat healthy foods or not. We have the choice to be sedentary or live an active life. We have the choice to prioritize mental health and stress management, or succumb to the neverending stress around us. And I made the choice not only to do the best I can for me, but also to spend my life’s work in passing on that message to anyone who will listen.
Seeing that this is Heart Month, let’s dive into heart health! Your heart is a muscle, just like those bulging biceps you admire in your mirror ;) It is a slightly different type of muscle, but just like your biceps, it needs to be worked through cardiovascular activity. From running to tennis to a HIIT workout, you know when you feel your heart pumping!
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, less than half of adults get the recommended aerobic activity. Less than 25% get both the recommended amount of strength and aerobic training. Unfortunately, there is also a statistically significant difference when looking at age groups. As people age, they exercise less.
The minimum recommended cardio activity is 150 to 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 to 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity (or a combination of both). Where do you stand? If you’re not quite there yet, what can you do this week to add a little more? Let go of the ‘all or nothing’ mentality, and instead go for ‘a little better each day’.