Wow, it’s February! While I have mixed feelings about celebrating yet another birthday this month, there is one noteworthy event I welcome with enthusiasm: today kicks off American Heart Month. If you’re still looking for a reason to make your healthy 2012 resolutions stick, I just gave you one. There’s simply no time like the present to take stock of how well you’re taking care of your ticker!
I don’t think you can offer too many reminders about the seriousness of heart disease in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.
- Someone in this country has a heart attack every 34 seconds. Each minute, someone dies from a heart disease-related event.
- Heart disease doesn’t discriminate. It’s the number one cause of death for most ethnicities in the U.S.
- Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease.
While your family history can put you at greater risk, there are lifestyle choices each of us can make to decrease our behavioral risk factors for heart disease. These include obesity, high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol and diabetes. Guess what? Along with quitting smoking and following a healthy diet, getting exercise is one of the best things you can to keep these risk factors in check. Ultimately, exercise is one of your most powerful weapons in the fight against heart disease.
This doesn’t mean you have to sign up for a boot camp class or half-marathon during today’s lunch break. The latest guidelines from the American Heart Association indicate we need 30 minutes of brisk activity on five days a week. You can even break down those 30-minutes into a couple of 15-minute bouts. If you’ve never exercised before, your goal should be to get up off the couch and get moving. Take a walk around the neighborhood or get a fitness game for the kids’ video console. If you do want to join a gym, consider joining with a buddy for support. Try group exercise classes (like Zumba®!) until you find one you like and look forward to participating two or three times a week. Treat yourself to a couple of personal training sessions so you learn to navigate your way safely through a fitness routine. This is your health we’re talking about. If you don’t take the time to invest in it, who will?
Check out these sites for more information about heart disease, prevention tips, American Heart Month and other year-round initiatives like Go Red for Women:
Finally, don’t forget to wear red this Friday, February 3rd. I’ll be pulling something fiery out of my closet to show my support for National Wear Red Day®. When it’s over, I look forward to doing all I can to take care of my heart -and hopefully encouraging all of you to do the same – as part of a year-round plan to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!