This semester has started out as a whirlwind!! It is my last semester and I have started my internship at Shady Grove Adventist Cardiac Rehab and it has been an amazing experience thus far. I am working with patients, getting to know hospital protocol, and I’m given the opportunity to write for their newsletter! Below is an example of an article I wrote for February and Heart Health Month. 🙂
“If I Only had a Heart”: The Journey to a Healthy Heart
February is National Heart Month and its goal is to raise awareness for heart disease and prevention. This article will cover topics that fall into primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease and the long journey to a healthy heart.
Exercise is an imperative factor that can contribute to CVD prevention and treatment. Per the American College of Sports Medicine, the population is recommended 30-60 minutes, 3-5 days/week of cardiovascular exercise. This can include walking, biking, running, elliptical and even swimming. There are endless possibilities to achieve this recommendation, it just takes a little heartfelt dedication. Examples of purposeful exercise that are part of your daily life include walking the dog, talking a walk during a lunch break, or wearing proper shoes when hitting the mall. What are the benefits? The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute specifies that regular exercise contributes to lowering blood pressure and triglyceride levels. C-reactive protein (CRP) also decreases; “This protein is a sign of inflammation. High levels of CRP may suggest an increased risk for CHD (coronary heart disease).” Your body also gets better use of the small blood vessels in your heart that improve function and oxygen delivery.
Another aspect in the “Heart Health Journey” is diet. While it’s widely known to “eat healthy” …what does that mean? More salad? High protein? It’s all a balance. One common guideline is Choose MyPlate that is organized by the USDA. This movement helps with dietary tips and proportion guidelines on vegetables, grains, fruit, protein, and dairy. For those who are in secondary prevention, another common guideline is that DASH Diet. This focuses on a low sodium diet that helps lower high blood pressure and ultimately decreasing a co-morbidity that can lead to cardiovascular disease. If you would like to know more about what foods fit your lifestyle, make an appointment with one of our Registered Dieticians!
One mission in the “Heart Health Journey” that often gets skipped is preparation!
“When you fail to plan, you plan to fail…”- Benjamin Franklin
So, what can you do to ensure your success? Do you have time on Sunday night to plan your week ahead? Do you follow a similar routine each week? Do you set aside specific times for your exercise or food preparation? These are questions to ask yourselves if you find that it is challenging to follow a routine and make healthy decisions. How can we overcome these challenges? The NIH suggests making exercise appointments with friends that will help you stay accountable with your exercise routine, plan at least one meal or exercise routine differently each week to keep your interest, cook healthy foods in bulk to help with healthy meals for lunch or breakfast, and set short term goals or challenges to help you stay motivated.
Achieving a healthy heart is a long process that takes time. While there may be obstacles along the way, it is important to remember that your heart and body will thank you! You also have resources at The Center for Fitness and Health to keep you on track and cheer you on during your journey. Just follow the yellow brick road! Like the tinman, he realized he had a heart the whole time! You too have the strength to make heart healthy decisions and lifestyle changes that will not only benefit yourself, but inspire those around you!
Happy National Heart Month!
Changing Your Habits for Better Health. (2013, June). Retrieved January 19, 2017, from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/diet/changing-habits/Pages/changing-your-habits.aspx#f
Getting Started and Staying Active. (2016, June 22). Retrieved January 24, 2017, from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/phys/getstarted
Heller, M. (2004). The DASH Diet Eating Plan. Retrieved January 21, 2017, from http://dashdiet.org/default.asp
MyPlate/MiPlato.(2011). Retrieved January 22, 2017, from https://www.cnpp.usda.gov/MyPlate