Love Your Heart: Let Me Count the Ways

At an average heart rate of 72 beats per minute, your heart can beat 2.6 billion times in an average lifespan! Yet we seldom think about our hearts – our life giving organ. You can look after your heart – in many ways.

Get Moving!

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, to improve the health of your heart, you need to exercise 150 minutes per week – whether you walk, cycle, climb stairs, swim, vacuum – anything to get moving and burn calories. Walking is easily accessible. Thirty minutes per day, five days a week is a good plan, however, even 10 or 15 minute increments twice a day is also adequate. A brisk walk at lunch hour and after dinner is a good start.

Reduce Stress

For centuries there has been an association with stress and your heart. Drs. Friedman and Roseman, cardiologists in the ‘50’s documented that those with ‘Type A’ type personality are associated with increased heart risk. ‘Type A’s’ are always in a hurry and most often will try to stuff more into less time. They often create deadlines that don’t exist and display aggressive and hostile behaviour over something that many others would pass over. They move, walk and eat quickly and are often impatient, however, they can’t slow down as they feel that their success is tied to their speed. Many have a nervous tic, a shaky leg or clenched jaw. They feel guilty when relaxing.  Perhaps you know someone like this; maybe it’s you.

Unmanaged stress can cause high blood pressure, irregular heart rhythms, damage to your arteries, higher cholesterol levels, and the development of coronary heart disease. In times of stress, people often turn to harmful habits to reduce their stress, such as cigarette smoking, overeating, and use of drugs or over-use of alcohol. All of these factors put you at additional risk for heart disease and stroke.

You Can Gain Control.

  • Begin to take note of things that cause you to feel stressed.
  • Accept the fact that you can’t change certain situations.
  • Find some time each day to relax; take some deep breaths to get calm.
  • Notice when you have negative thinking; give yourself credit for a job well done.
  • Take charge of your schedule and prioritize your tasks each day.
  • Practice healthy habits: exercise, get enough sleep, drop the junk food – chips, candy bars, donuts, white flour products, aspartame; get a physical check-up.

Food and Nutrients to Reduce Stress Include:

B Vitamins are essential for nervous system function. Dietary sources include legumes (beans, lentils, and peas), whole grains, seeds, and nuts.

Vitamin C supports healthy adrenal function; the adrenal glands help us deal with stress.  Vegetables and fruits (and Vitamin C supplements) provide vitamin C.

Potassium supports adrenal health and helps transmit nerve impulses. Find this mineral in fruits, vegetables, lentils, nuts, milk, molasses, canned sardines, and whole-grain cereals.

Magnesium deficiencies can trigger irritability and fatigue. This mineral helps relieve insomnia and constipation (reasons for stress!) Magnesium-rich foods include tofu, legumes, seeds, nuts, whole grains and green leafy vegetables.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids lower blood fats called triglycerides. You’ll find the highest amounts in fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and herring. Other sources include ground flaxseed, walnuts, soybeans, canola oil, and high quality fish oil supplements.

Dietary fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels, important to prevent diabetes and protect the heart. High-fiber foods include legumes, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.

Incorporate these stress relief tips into daily living to lead a more healthy, balanced and productive life. There is no time like the present to care for and love your heart…And the beat goes on.

For more great stress relief tips check out Rosalie’s new book and ebook: Frazzled Hurried Woman!