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Four Reasons to Boost Your Heart Health


It’s February and Valentine’s Day is coming. What better time to think about your heart! Why not check out these tips to help boost your health:

  1. A heavier body weight may be linked to heart disease. Compared to people of normal weight, overweight people are at 22% higher risk of having a stroke. In obese people, the risk rises to 64%. This was published in a 2010 report in the journal Stroke, which obtained results from 25 studies involving over two million people. Consider changing your food choices. A healthy diet (check out the Canada Food Guide) is about 80% of the solution. Improving food choices (especially decreasing processed food), eating out less and being mindful of portion size are a good place to start. Remember to start off each day with a healthy breakfast that includes protein. Change it up; variety is the spice of life!
  2. Exercise is roughly 20% of the solution to maintaining a healthy body weight. If your goal is to reach a healthier weight, it is essential that when you exercise, you maintain 65-80% level of intensity for over 30 minutes several times per week. Try doing a variety of workouts and consider exercising with a partner.
  3. Smoking causes major stress on the heart. If you smoke, consider talking to your doctor about getting help to kick the habit. According to the British Heart Foundation, smokers are almost twice as likely to have a heart attack as non-smokers. After a few months without smoking, your cardiovascular exercise will become easier and more enjoyable.
  4. Change your mood! Are you feeling blue? Short days mean less sunshine, and many of us feel down when we aren’t getting enough light. The good news is, just twenty to thirty minutes of moderate exercise can cause the release of endorphins. These endorphins make us feel happy! Exercise may be an effective way to improve your mood!

So this Valentine’s Day, why not plan an active date with your sweetheart? Go skiing, or skating, go for a walk or do an exercise class together! Then go home and cook up some healthy food and savour it!  Take good care of your heart!

Wendy Lee, BA, Kinesiology, has been working in the Physical Health Department at Bellwood since 2009. She has over ten years of experience working in community rehabilitation clinics and in the outpatient orthopedic clinic at York Central Hospital as part of their Physiotherapy team.