Your heart is the engine system that drives your body. A healthy cardiovascular system not only promotes a sense of well-being but it can also delay or altogether eliminate some of the most harmful diseases and causes of death.
Imagine a machine that sends about 2,000 gallons of liquid off in all directions over the course of a day by pulsing some 100,000 times. Now imagine that machine weighs less than a pound (about 300g) and is the size of your first. Well, you just met your heart.
While age, race and sex all factor into your chances for problems with your heart (cardio), a healthy lifestyle (exercise, healthy eating, sleep and a positive attitude) is the best way to combat heart diseases. We encourage you to be active, make as many healthy food choices each day from all four food groups, keep your processed foods to a minimum as they tend to be high in sugar and sodium and keep track of what you’re eating so that you know if you’re eating too much and/or not making the best food choices. The internet has many food/exercise trackers available free. Keeping track is one strategy that can certainly help you to be successful at losing/maintaining your weight.
Your vascular health (the second part of cardiovascular health) is just as important and somewhat more dangerous because there are so many areas that can be targeted — arteries, veins and lymph vessels among them. Your peripheral arteries, those outside the heart, can develop plaque on their interiors just like the heart’s blood vessels can. This plaque consists of deposits of fat and cholesterol from a poor diet and lack of exercise over time. As the build-up persists, the amount of room for blood to flow is narrowed and multiple problems can arise. This reiterates the importance of a healthy diet, as your body is not made to process large amounts of fat and cholesterol, leaving it to be stored unnaturally in places designed for other purposes. Also a lack of exercise or a sedentary lifestyle can cause major problems to the vascular system. A blood clot, also known as a thrombus, can form at sites in your body where blood pools due to a lack of activity. The clot can then dislodge and travel your blood stream to the heart, lungs or brain, where it can become a pulmonary embolism and even cause death.
We’re sure you’ve heard about cardio exercises. These are specific exercises that are designed to improve your heart, lungs and other muscles. In general, any exercise that gets your heart beating faster than its normal pace and maintains that rhythm is considered cardio. You don’t need to apply for a gym membership to do cardio. Fast walking, jogging and cycling are all cardio exercises that will give your body long-term benefits; as are playing soccer with your children or running with your favourite four-legged friend. Chances are the cold weather this year has caused you to be less active so when next winter is in sight, you might want to invest in a treadmill or a stationary bicycle to aid in your quest to keep your heart healthy.
Now that Spring is around the corner, get your bike tuned up, change the wheels on your in-line skates or buy a new pair of walking/running shoes and start improving your cardiovascular system while enjoying the great outdoors.
Until Next Time, Keep Fit & Have Fun! — Hal & Joanne