February is Heart Health Month

February is Heart Health month, and cardiovascular strength is an anchor in any successful fitness program. Knowing the facts will help you understand the reality, so whether your prone to skipping workouts, eating like a college freshman, or both, take a moment to learn a little more about how your heart works.

NOTE: in celebration of Heart Health Month, all new members of inMOTION Workouts will get a free three-month upgrade. So set up a new (FREE) account at our online exercise module at www.inmotionworkouts.com, and we will send you a note about the upgrade details.

The heart is about the size of a fist, and it beats an average of 120,000 times a day, generally without fail, until the day we die.  As a vital organ, the heart requires a constant supply of oxygen-rich blood for nourishment. The coronary arteries deliver this required oxygen and nutrients directly to the heart. However, when the arterial walls become blocked, due to plaque and fatty build up, these functions struggle and/or cease, and the heart suffers damage as a result.

Check out these frightening heart health statistics:

- Every 20 sec, a person in the United States has a heart attack, and every 34 sec a person in the United States dies from heart disease.
- $444 billion was spent treating heart disease in 2010.
- More than 2,500 Americans die from heart disease each day.
- Cigarette smoke causes 180,000 deaths a year due to vascular conditions (not to mention how many deaths result in cancer).  A smoker lives seven years less than a non-smoker.
- Obese people are 2-6x more likely to develop high blood pressure than those who are within a healthy weight range.

Heart Disease is the number one killer in the United States, for both men and women.  We tend to think heart disease is another person’s problem because it’s a silent disease, one with few visible signs until it’s too late.  The most common cause of heart disease is the narrowing or blockage of the arterial walls, the vessels that supply oxygenated blood directly to the heart. This is called atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. This narrowing happens very slowly over time, it’s a slow progressive disease that can result in either a heart attack or a stroke. At an annual physical, your doctor can help you understand your level of risk so please make sure that you keep this once a year appointment. If you don't have a regular doctor, speak to your pharmacist about neighborhood screenings. Some drug stores offer them in the store and there are several in home brands that you can try.

There are many factors contributing to developing atherosclerosis.  This disease can not only be prevented, but some of the damage can also be reversed if the proper steps are taken.  While some may be genetically predisposed to heart disease, most people can live long, healthy lives if they take good care of their hearts. So it's critical that you understand the five factors that you control:

1. Exercise: move the body at an elevated heart rate for about 30 minutes most days of the week (we recommend all!).
2. Diet: base meals around plants, beans, nuts, and lean dairy. Consume meats responsibly (small, lean portions, cooked appropriately).
3. High cholesterol: If you do #1 and #2, you are well on your way. Know your number (see a doctor or get screened asap) and act accordingly.
4. Hypertension: Otherwise known as high blood pressure, this condition is caused by numbers 1-3 plus added stress and genetic factors. Have it tested and then work to keep the numbers within normal range, preferably without drugs.
5. Smoking habit: No brainer - DON'T DO IT!

For our part, the team at inSHAPE wants to help you condition your heart and strengthen your muscles and bones, with fun and motivating routines and ideas. A daily regimen is the very best way that you can get into the habit of moving your body, which in turn, reduces cholesterol levels and lowers blood pressure.  By challenging the heart through exercise you force it to function at an elevated level, and you can start this at ANY age, in virtually any health condition. Contact our team to help you design a customized program.