February is all about having a Heart. Nearly 50 years ago February was designated “American Heart Month” by an act of Congress; while over 1,700 years ago, so the story goes, the kindly Bishop Valentine defied the then Roman Emperor’s ban on marriage and was martyred on February 14th around 270 A.D. thus giving birth to Valentine’s Day. The long and short of February; this is the month to address matters of the heart. So I’ll cut to the chase, how healthy is your heart?
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), physical inactivity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and most Americans are not physically active enough. AHA and the American College of Sports Medicine both recommend that all adults (ages 18 to 65) should be getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days per week to gain any health benefits. It is really a lot easier than you think when you incorporate a couple of these suggestions into your daily routine.
· Exercise can be as simple as walking, if you are just beginning a fitness routine – start slowly and always listen to your body
· Progress from walking to an easy jog or hills if you are outside
· In the gym be sure to vary the cardio equipment you use
· A great way to really increase the intensity of your cardio workout is to incorporate plyometric training or short bursts of high intensity training, try step ups, box jumps, lunge jumps or jumping jacks
· Remember to incorporate both strength training and cardio to get the best possible results and to keep your heart healthy year round
· Other things that you can do to keep your heart healthy include; monitoring your blood pressure, keeping your cholesterol & blood sugar in check and of course eating healthy
For the more romantic matters of the heart we have Valentine’s Day. Gifts to ones sweetheart such as chocolate, flowers or cards became popular in Victorian times and remain so today. A gift of chocolate on Valentine’s Day not only says “I love you,” but now research shows that it may have real heart healthy benefits! In fact studies have shown that it contains antioxidants & flavonoids that help to lower blood pressure & bad cholesterol. Plus dark chocolate also contains serotonin, a natural mood-boosting anti-depressant and it stimulates pleasure-inducing endorphin production. To be considered true dark chocolate it must be made of at least 65% cacao. European chocolates typically contain the highest amount of the beneficial flavonoids. Even with all the health benefits of dark chocolate – remember, all things in moderation. Just so you know here are some nutritional facts.
· 5 Dove dark chocolate pieces (40 g): 210 calories, 13 g fat
· 4 Ghirardelli dark chocolate squares (43 g): 220 calories, 17 g fat
· Lindt Excellence dark chocolate (40 g portion): 220 calories, 17 g fat
Keep your heart healthy this February and all year long!
Be Fit! Be Healthy! Be Happy!