February is a fantastic month to fall back in love … with yourself. I say back in love, because I have a couple of two year olds, and they are a shining reminder of all that is egocentric in this world. At some point, even if it was only as a toddler, you loved yourself more than anyone else in the world. As a matter of fact, you believed everyone else existed only for your amusement and to wipe your butt. I guess there are some adults who still feel this way. The majority of you, though, have done a 180 and have forgotten the importance of your personal well-being. NOW is a great time for a reminder. Forget about the chocolate. This Valentine’s Day, treat yourself with wellness. Start an exercise routine for your heart.
1. Your heart is a muscle. Just as a stronger bicep lifts heavy things easier and is less prone to injury, a strong heart pumps and relaxes in between beats more efficiently.
2. Aerobic exercise, which is essentially anything that gets your heart rate up, decreases blood pressure. Think of a pump trying to send water through a tight, hard hose. Now think of a pump sending water through a flexible, wider hose. Which pump do you think is going to blow a gasket sooner? Click here for your target heart rate during exercise.
3. Exercise has a positive effect on your cholesterol level. We know it lowers triglycerides and increases HDL (good cholesterol). It is not clear what it does for your LDL (bad cholesterol), but, for certain, overall it is a good thing.
4. Exercise obviously promotes a healthy weight. A healthy weight is a gift to your heart, as it puts less strain on your ticker. But, all you somewhat thin, lazy people should know this — an overweight person who exercises has less risk of developing heart disease than a sedentary thin person.
5. Exercise is known to decrease stress. Stress is known to contribute to heart disease. The mechanism by which stress is harmful to your heart is poorly understood. There are theories, but the point is, stress = bad.
How much exercise do you need? 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week will decrease your risk of heart disease by about 20%. More exercise will decrease your risk by up to 60%. Many people are predisposed to heart disease because of genetics or co-morbidities. Even so, they can decrease the progression of heart disease if they exercise. I talked about this topic on ABC’s Healthy Living yesterday. Confession: I have not exercised in 6 months. In addition to the flab, I am exhausted all the time. I know it is because I need to get moving. So, I have my work out clothes on and my work cut out for me. I will do something today. The roller coaster continues.