Q: I see more and more TV commercials for heart related ailments and I hear that heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in men and women. To say the least, it scares me a bit. What are some things I can to help prevent it? — Carl S.
A: Balance is the key to accomplishing any goal you have. Whether it be mental, physical, or emotional health it is imperative to have a balanced diet, coupled with cardiovascular and weight training routines. What you’re eating and your activity habits can help or hinder the progress you make in each of these three areas. I’ll go into a few things that can help decrease your chances of getting heart disease, but with any medical conditions, consult your medical professional for more individualized direction.
It is so important to do cardiovascular activity for a number of reasons. It is one of the best ways to strengthen your heart and release endorphins in the brain.
When exercising, your heart will beat faster to pump blood though out your body to provide oxygen to the tissues. Blood will flow away from the muscles that are not doing as much work and into the ones that are. For example, when running, blood will flow into your legs and away from your arms. When the heart registers larger amounts of blood, the left ventricle will progressively adapt and enlarge over time. As the left ventricle becomes larger, this will result in the ability to hold more blood and eject more blood per beat, as well when at rest. So, what does it mean to eject more blood per beat? This means that fewer beats are needed! Therefore, your heart will not have to work as hard! Shoot for at least 30 minutes of purposeful walking no less than three times per week.
With the increasing heat and humidity of the Florida summer, it may be beneficial to use a treadmill or elliptical to help you keep your activity consistent. Oh, and we can’t forget about the unpredictable 4 p.m. showers that we have every day that will prevent you from exercising outside. Did I say unpredictable?
Another important part of achieving this balance is to watch what you eat. Limiting your trans fats is important, so cut back on fried foods and foods that contain significant portions of butter, like baked goods. But not all fat is bad! Polyunsaturated fats, like those found in salmon, avocado and nuts, can actually help reduce your cholesterol and are heart-healthy foods. Alcohol in moderation may also be beneficial to your heart. Unfortunately, this doesn’t equate to the more you drink the healthier you are. Moderation is key!
Finally, don’t smoke. Tobacco products have long shown to have a negative effect on your heart health. Although I’m confident that your doctor will agree with me on not using tobacco, check with him or her on any of the above before beginning an exercise routine or changing your diet. Once your medical professional has given you the green light, any of our personal trainers can help you put together a personalized plan to help keep your heart healthy and you happy!
Kevin McGaha, Certified Personal Trainer and co-owner of Anytime Fitness in Winter Park, has extensive training experience with a cross-section of demographics and activity levels, including those wanting to look and feel healthier to sports specific training. He can be reached at 321-972-5833 for personal training. Have a health and fitness question? Email me at [email protected] and get a free personal training session.