February is American Heart Month! It is a good reminder to evaluate where your health and fitness levels are and how you can better guard against health disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "about 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year.” For several ethnic groups, heart disease is the leading cause of death.
Several medical conditions and lifestyle choices can affect someone’s risk for heart disease. Some of these can be improved through positive changes in how we live and work. The CDC list the following:
- Overweight and obesity
- Poor diet
- Physical inactivity
- Excessive alcohol use
According to the American Heart Association, staying fit is one way to stay healthy and reduce the likelihood of suffering from heart disease. In fact, they say "eating health and staying active are some of the most important things you can do to prevent heart disease.” They offer several tips for staying fit on their website: heart.org.
The American Heart Association offers these tips for adults to stay active:
- Get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both, preferably spread throughout the week.
- Add moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity (such as resistance or weights) on at least 2 days per week.
- Spend less time sitting. Even light-intensity activity can offset some of the risks of being sedentary.
- Gain even more benefits by being active at least 300 minutes (5 hours) per week.
- Increase amount and intensity gradually over time.
Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activities:
- brisk walking (at least 2.5 miles per hour)
- water aerobics
- dancing (ballroom or social)
- tennis (doubles)
- biking slower than 10 miles per hour
Examples of vigorous-intensity aerobic activities:
- hiking uphill or with a heavy backpack
- swimming laps
- aerobic dancing
- heavy yardwork like continuous digging or hoeing
- tennis (singles)
- cycling 10 miles per hour or faster
- jumping rope
Do not worry if you think you cannot do much at first. Simply walking can be one of the best ways to become active. According to the American Heart Association, "walking can have a significant impact on your health by lowering your chances of heart disease.” Be active in some way and celebrate the small victories along the way.
One Team. One Vision. One Goal. – Everyone Goes Home Safe!