We are now a full week into February and also a full week into Heart Month. Hopefully you have had time this past week to reflect on your heart health. Maybe you were able to analyze some of the risk factors that you see in your life and make goals on how to make changes. This week we'll discuss, in more detail, tips on keeping our hearts healthy.
Tip 1: Know Your Family Health History
Knowing your family health history can help you determine if you have a higher risk for certain chronic diseases, such as heart disease. And, even though you may not be able to change where you came from, you can definitely change your lifestyle and adopt healthier habits. If possible, gather as much information as you can from close family members. To receive more information on this topic click this CDC link. They even have tools for you to keep track of your family health information.
Frequent visits with your doctor will build a stronger, patient-doctor relationship; they get to know you better and your overall health and risk factors. Frequent visits does not mean weekly. Your healthcare provider will help you know when to schedule upcoming appointments and what screening tests are recommended for your age and general health.
Click on this link to be directed to the American Heart Association where they can provide you with more information on discussing your heart health with your doctor.
Tip 3: Exercise
We just can't talk enough about exercise when it comes to heart health. It is recommended that we get 150 minutes of exercise per week. Th benefits of regular exercise may include: lower blood pressure, weight control, strengthening muscles, and improving blood flow.
For maximum benefits, try incorporating the three workouts below:
Tip 4: Eat For Your Heart
The American Heart Association has so many great tips and guidelines, click on their logo below to find tips, recipes and recommendations.
The time to start thinking about Heart Health should begin today.
Here we are, already entering the second month of 2021. For those of us who dislike the winter months, we are halfway through! For those of you who like the winter months, hopefully February will bring you the winter you desire. I guess we will all know the second half of winter's fate this Tuesday thanks to the classic, and somewhat odd, tradition of Groundhog's Day.
Besides looking forward to a soothsaying rodent, February is also a great time for us to focus on our health, specifically our heart health. February is Heart Month in the United States; it is a time for us to reflect on this amazing organ and how we can keep it healthy and ticking. So, why do we need a full month to focus on heart health; well, by looking over heart data, it appears that we may be taking this incredible organ for granted. According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for almost 1 in 4 deaths. Every 36 seconds, a person dies due to cardiovascular disease. I am sure you know at least one person in your life that is affected by heart disease. Join me this month in celebrating our amazing hearts by learning what we can do to keep them in the best shape possible.
Before we discuss what we can do this month to take care of our hearts, let us look at a brief summary of what heart disease is and its risk factors. Heart disease is more of an umbrella term that covers many different diseases of the heart. The one that we may be most familiar about, since it is the most common one in the U.S., is coronary artery disease (CAD). Caused by plaque build up in the arteries, CAD slows blood flow to the heart. Many people may not even realize they have CAD until they suffer from a heart attack (CDC). That is why it is so important to take care of our hearts, and there's no better time to start than Heart Month.
To guard against heart disease, it is important to know the risk factors involved.
There are many different aspects of heart health that we could focus on this month. For information and ideas visit the National Heart, Blood and Lung Institute or the American Heart Association.
Heart health is a topic that I am very passionate about. I have a long family history of heart disease and so it is very important for me to be vigilant with my heart health. Here are a few things that I will be focusing on this month to keep my heart in good shape. Please leave comments below on what you would like to work on this month for heart health.
.Why does it always seem as though the month of January is lasting forever! If you're like me, you dread the month of January before it begins, as it slowly goes by from one day to the next and how the last day of the month never seems to get any closer. For those of us who may feel the slow drag of the January days, we are not alone. By typing in "why does January feel so long" into my search engine, I found many articles from across the nation explaining the effects that the month of January has on individuals and why it may feel like such a long month.
There are a couple of reasons why I feel as though January is long to me, and by looking through some research, I found that these reasons are felt by many.
One of the main reasons I feel as though January may seem so long is because it follows the month of December. Looking back, I still cannot believe how fast the month of December went by. Why is this, considering that both months contain the same amount of days? It really comes down to how we mentally view the two months. December is full of many activities: celebrations with the different holidays, school terms ending, and many parties, shows, and events to attend. Researchers, who study time perception, believe that our internal clock judges time differently. When we are excited and motivated, we mentally view time as going faster than when we are scared, bored or unmotivated (NewStatesmen). Coming off of an exciting month, like December, we may see January as boring and our motivation levels may sink, making the month seem longer than it really is.
Another reason January may feel so long is due to the length of daylight we are receiving. Although our daylight hours are beginning to increase during January, we are still seeing shortened days and longer nights. Due to less sunlight, our bodies may be producing less serotonin (which helps regulate mood) or more melatonin (which may increase sleepiness). This may cause us to feel more down during the darker, winter months. It is not uncommon to feel these mood changes during this time of the year, especially living here in Cache Valley where the effects of winter are felt here more than in southern, warmer places. If, however, your mood changes are affecting your day to day activities, you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as winter blues or seasonal depression.
SAD is a type of depression that shows up during seasonal changes. The symptoms for SAD may be the same as those for depression. Listed below are symptoms that show up frequently for those suffering from SAD.
I have also included a couple of helpful YouTube videos to help explain the causes, symptoms and treatments for SAD. If needed, please seek out your health care provided for more information and treatment options for SAD.
So, how do we survive this long, winter month? A couple of things I find that work for me each year are listed below.
Some of these suggestions may need to be tweaked a little, thanks to COVID-19, but, hopefully there are some suggestions that may work for you. If you have any suggestions or ideas on how to make the winter months more fun and motivating, please feel free to share with us in the comment section.
Staying Safe and Healthy for Christmas
It's the 21st of December; where has the month gone?! This week is full of excitement and anticipation as Christmas inches closer and closer. A couple of things things we can do this week to make Christmas more enjoyable is by being safe and healthy. Listed below are some ideas on how to take care of ourselves throughout the week and into the holiday.
Safety on the Road: There will be more cars on the road this week filled with last minute shoppers, families and friends out and about, and travelers coming and going for the holiday. Add in the possibility of snow and the roads may not be your favorite place this week. Drive carefully, be courteous to other drivers and plan for extra time so you are not rushing to your destination. If you are leaving town, make sure your car is ready: the lights work, windshield wipers and tires are in good shape, you have plenty of oil and gas. Check road conditions and always travel with an emergency kit. If you are attending a celebration where alcohol is involved, remember to drink in moderation and, if necessary, plan ahead and designate a sober driver.
Fire Safety: Fires are all too common during the holiday season caused by Christmas lights, Christmas trees, candles, and accidents in the kitchen. Inspect Christmas lights for frayed wires. Make sure to water your tree daily; a dry tree can quickly become a danger. Keep candles away from anything flammable; make sure they are in a sturdy holder and do not leave candles unattended. When cooking, stay in the kitchen and minimize distractions. Keep decorations away from your range. Keep a lid near by if cooking with grease.
COVID-19 and Christmas: Sadly, COVID-19 will not be taking the holidays off this year. Although a vaccination is now being administered to a select few, it is still a cause of concern as cases continue to rise throughout the general public. Please keep COVID-19 in your holiday plans: stay home and away from others if you feel sick, social distance when possible, mask up and keep gatherings small. Click on this CDC link to read the holiday recommendations.
Stress and the Holidays: Holidays are a wonderful time of the year, but they can also be a very stressful time. Make sure to make time for yourself to unwind and relax. Make a schedule: plan when you want your shopping, wrapping, cooking, etc. accomplished. Be realistic, especially with COVID-19, that this year's celebration may look different than in the past; the holiday experience will be more enjoyable if you do not try to reach some unattainable ideal of a perfect holiday season. Refer back to the blog from 11/1/2020 for more reading on a stress free holiday.
Eating Healthy: One of the best things about the holidays is the food. And, there is no harm in letting ourselves indulge and enjoy some of our favorite goodies during this time of year. However, it is also not a good idea to have a free for all and eat everything in sight because it is the holidays. Also, don't ruin your holidays with guilt and shame for "ruining your diet." There is a lot of advice online for eating healthy during this time of year. Some of the ones I find the most helpful are: don't skip meals, don't skip the fruits and vegetables, take small serving sizes, stay hydrated, spend more time socializing, and don't forget your workouts.
On behalf of the Logan Family Center: Have a very Merry Christmas