It’s February, the month known for heart-shaped candies, romantic love letters and, most importantly, reminding us to focus on the health of the organ that keeps our bodies churning 24/7, 365 days a year – the heart. As the center of your entire cardiovascular system, your heart plays a vital role in your daily functioning, athletic performance and long-term health. All this considered, the Spin® Life blog is here to provide you with some ideas to help care for your “ticker” this February!
Here are five proven practices to consider as you set out on this heartfelt mission:
1. Carve Out a Cardio Routine
Cardio is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy body weight, which in turn boosts your heart health. It has also shown to provide several other positive health effects for your heart, such as a reduction in “bad” cholesterol (LDL), an increase in “good” cholesterol, lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart disease.
With such a variety of benefits, you can easily see why it’s important to keep up on your cardio. If you are among those who have fallen behind on their cardio recently, there’s no need to worry, as there are many solutions, from walking more each day to joining a local Spinning class® Even homebodies have options now with home cardio equipment, like the home Spinner® bike. The bottom line is there’s an option for everybody, so don’t hesitate and get moving![i]
2. Embrace Your Inner ‘Yogi’
While yoga typically gets highlighted for its well-known ability to increase flexibility, the benefits don’t stop at enhanced muscular elasticity. Yoga packs some major healthy heart benefits as well.
The strong emphasis Yoga puts on controlled breathing during each class is the primary reason it improves your heart health. It is also an excellent way to reduce stress, which your heart will appreciate. Not all of those health effects take a long time to kick in either as practicing yoga for only a short amount of time (over two weeks) can help provide you with heart-related benefits![ii]
3. Say ‘No’ to Your Sweet Tooth
They say that breaking up is hard to do, and with its endorphin eliciting response, sugar is not an easy thing to separate from, especially when it sneaks in as added sugar. Added sugar can be found in many common processed foods and is not called “sugar” on nutrition labels, although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is changing that in July 2018. Most US adults consume more added sugar than is recommended for a healthy diet.[iii] Combine that with the fact that too much added sugar could increase your risk of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity-related cancers, and there’s plenty of reasons to cut back on sweets.[iv] [v]
To properly take care of your heart, you should aim to consume less than the American Heart Association’s recommended daily amount of added sugar – no more than 36 grams, for men and 24 grams for women). Follow those guidelines and say no to your sweet tooth this February to give your heart a helping hand.[vi]
4. Ease up on Salty Snacks
Monitoring the amount of sodium in your diet is a proven healthy heart practice as it can help keep your blood pressure at a healthy level, among other benefits. Despite that fact, 89 percent of American adults are still consuming more than the recommended daily amount (2,300 milligrams).
One likely reason so many people are eating excessive sodium is the common misconception that sodium only comes from the salt shaker. This belief is far from the truth as sodium is found in many popular processed foods, sometimes in large amounts. For instance, a single slice of bread can have anywhere from 80 to 230 mg of sodium, and one slice of frozen pizza can have between 370 and 730 mg. This month, do your heart a favor and keep track of your sodium intake.[vii] [viii]
5. Opt to Add Avocado
If you’re not already among those who jump for joy over this nutrient-packed green, it’s time to consider adding more of it to your diet. Luckily, for those of you that don’t enjoy its taste, avocados are so nutrient-dense that it only takes a small amount to redeem its healthy heart benefits.
Eating just one-half of an avocado can provide you with a series of nutrients and phytochemicals including dietary fiber, potassium, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K1, folate, vitamin B-6, niacin and more. Also, compared with other fruits, avocados are very low in sugar with about 0.2 grams for every half you eat.[ix]
Whether you take all of these suggestions and run with them, or only implement one, remember that your heart keeps you moving every moment of every day. This Healthy Heart Month, take the time to return the favor for all of the hard work your heart puts in each day!