Exercise for Heart Health

February is National Heart Month, a time to bring your health to the forefront and make changes to keep your heart pumping strong. Did you know that exercise, along with a health diet, is a key component of preventing heart disease?

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the CDC. Common risk factors include having high blood pressure and high cholesterol, being overweight or obese, smoking, drinking, not eating enough fruits and vegetables, and stress.

Fortunately, there are many things you can do to keep yourself from developing heart disease! Making dietary changes, such as limiting saturated fats, foods high in sodium, and added sugars while increasing fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is a great way to prevent heart disease.

Engaging in regular exercise can also decrease your risk, as well as, provide many other health benefits! Regular exercise can help to lower blood pressure and weight, reduce inflammation, lower stress, reduce cancer risk, and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Exercise is especially beneficial for the heart because it helps keep arteries and other blood vessels flexible, ensuring good blood flow and a normal blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends 40 minutes of moderate exercise 3 to 4 times a week (for a total of 150 minutes) to prevent cardiovascular disease.

Although we are in the dead of winter, there are still plenty of ways you can exercise and keep moving. You can go skiing or snowboarding, ice skating, build a snowman, go for a walk around the block or through the mall, or try a new fitness class at your local gym. Most offer your first class free! Why not get the whole family involved? Invite your friends, family, and significant other to go ice skating, go indoor rock climbing, or play a game of basketball or other sport.

Your action goal for this week is to choose 1 way to exercise that heart! Leave a comment and let me know what you are working on for some accountability.

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Guest post written by Cedar Crest Dietetic Intern – Katie Gunter, MS
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