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Pump Up Your Heart Health During American Heart Month

Your heart does important and tireless work. This fist-sized muscular organ sends blood throughout the entire body, providing essential oxygen and nutrients while carrying away waste. The right and left ventricles work in tandem, completing opposite tasks; the right side of the heart receives blood and circulates it into the lungs, while the left side pumps the blood from the lungs throughout the body. Around the clock, your heart maintains this vital rhythm. The heart plays a paramount role in sustaining life. Give your heart a little extra TLC this February, during American Heart Month, to keeping it pumping strongly.

According to the Heart Foundation, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. More lives are lost to heart disease than all collective forms of cancer. These staggering statistics are the reason we need to work as hard for our heart as it does for us, starting with smoking cessation. Smoking is a leading cause of coronary heart disease, the most common type of heart disease in America. The risk of coronary heart disease drops by 50% after one smoke-free year. Nicotine users should seek the advice of their health care provider, to learn the best ways to give up smoking for long-term success. (http://bit.ly/1oobYST)

Paying close attention to your diet can help to keep your heart happy. Consider adding leafy greens or other vegetables to every meal, or swapping one processed snack per day with whole fruit. Encourage little ones to consume the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables by adding some fun to their fare. Fruit kabobs can turn an ordinary snack into an extraordinary one and “veggie people,” complete with carrot arms and legs on a cucumber body, will delight your young snacker. Click here http://bit.ly/1nkLjEn for an easy-to-follow recipe.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise individuals to eat foods which are low in cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans fat to reduce the risk of developing high cholesterol. When preparing meals, try using fresh herbs and spices instead of salt, which can increase blood pressure. Eating a heart-healthy diet will also assist you in controlling your weight, which will decrease your risk of heart disease. If you’re not sure if your weight falls within a healthy range, try using the CDC’s body mass index (BMI) calculator for insight: http://1.usa.gov/1dSzT3p.

Maintaining a physically active lifestyle has many heart-related benefits including regulating blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. The Surgeon General suggests two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, per week. To make the task seem less daunting for those who are just starting an exercise routine, consider breaking up the time into 10-minute increments, a few times per day. Finding an exercise you love can help to keep you motivated. If you enjoy the beach, go for a swim. Crazy about shopping? A few laps around the mall can add up to miles of walking – then you can treat yourself for all of your hard work! (http://1.usa.gov/1UYoBAO)

If you’ve experienced a heart attack in the past, physical rehabilitation is essential. Therapy sessions will provide a gradual transition into physical activity, under the supervision of a trained professional. SCPT can work with you or a loved one by developing a plan to regain strength in a safe environment, while providing resources to continue the routine at home. For additional information, give us a call at 508.832.2628. We’d be happy to help you (and your heart) stay healthy and strong!

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