Hello friends, and welcome to this month’s Joyinmovement newsletter.
It’s February, so let’s make it a heart healthy month.
Do you know that heart disease is the cause of over half a million American deaths and still remains the leading cause of death in the U.S.?
Before we talk about preventative steps we can all take for a healthy heart lifestyle, I want to make sure you understand a few things.
First, do you know what coronary heart disease is? It’s when the blood supply to the heart is blocked by fatty deposits. If there’s a partial blockage it will often lead to chest pains. Actually, in women the most common sign of partial blockage is shortness of breath, unusual fatigue, and disturbed sleep. Women commonly have less chest pain than men.
As you get closer to a heart attack, the blood supply is completely blocked and muscle begins to die.
If we use the analogy of a house, the pipes get blocked and the plumbing gets backed up. These are never good things whether in your house or your body!
Our best weapons against heart disease are appropriate exercise and healthy eating.
By appropriate exercise I mean exercise that challenges the cardiovascular system to do its job better. Its job is to deliver oxygen to all the tissues in the body. With exercise you want to help your heart, lungs, and blood do this delivery more effectively. The better they do their job, the better our hearts will be.
Most days of the week we do lifestyle activities like walking the dog, washing the car, or doing general housework. These do have an effect on disease prevention BUT it’s not the same as getting your heart in shape. It’s a question of intensity. This intensity point is very important!
Keep getting daily activity and then 2-3 days a week make sure that you challenge yourself more intensely. By this I mean that you need to ask your oxygen delivery system, which is run by its big engine (your heart), to take on more work. Your heart needs to be challenged so it learns to do its job in a much more effective way.
In talking with another trainer, he mentioned that he asks his clients to think of this in three different ways. I thought his idea was creative so I’ll pass it on to you.
He said think of exercise in three different ways: Me, The, and We.
ME is to do heart benefiting exercise that YOU enjoy.
THE is to choose something that someone you love enjoys.
WE is to choose something that you and someone else share a joy for.
When I gave this assignment to a client, he chose lifting weights for himself, dancing with his wife for THE, and riding bikes with his buddy for WE. All great choices!
Here’s another fun idea.
I’m often asked to speak to groups on the benefits of leading a fit and healthy lifestyle. Inevitably, when I ask for reasons why people aren’t currently exercising, I hear answers such as, “don’t have the time” and “don’t want to go to the gym”.
Since today we’re discussing heart healthy exercise, I have to say that you don’t need much time OR to go to a gym. Want an example of an exercise I recommend to clients who don’t have much time and don’t go to gyms?
JUMPING JACKS! Before you roll your eyes and say we did those in the third grade, hear me out. These are not your mother’s jumping jacks. In fact, if one of these JJ variations DOES NOT get your heart pumping, come see me, and we can find a JJ variation that’ll work for you…..I promise!
Jumping Jacks are traditionally done with your arms overhead and your feet out to the sides. Try these instead.
1. Start with one arm up and one arm down. With each jump switch those arms up and down.
2. Feet are wide and start with both arms out to one side. As you jump move your arms from right side to left side and back again.
3. Start with both arms open to the sides and even with your shoulders. As you jump, close your arms in to your body and then open again.
4. Use the traditional JJ arm movements but put one leg in front and one leg back and go front to back and switch again.
The unbalanced feeling when you do these will provide you with a core stabilizing exercise. Also, when you have an unbalanced movement like this you’ll get a better total body workout.
Hopefully you tried these as you read them! Fun, huh???
Before I close this newsletter, I want to remind you that for a dietary approach to preventing coronary heart disease, eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, and if you eat animal protein, eat ones that were fed plants.
Always remember that the moment you make better choices, your heart gets better. Practice heart healthy behaviors every day!
Until next month, jump for Joyinmovement!