Taking care of your heart not a joke

Taking care of your heart can be a joke Kathleen Schoder The heart is a powerful muscle about the size of a closed fis
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

Taking care of your heart can be a joke

Kathleen Schoder

The heart is a powerful muscle about the size of a closed fist. The heart pumps about two gallons of blood through the entire body in about 60 seconds. That is quite a task. Most individuals do not give this process a second thought. It is important to know that by giving the heart and its responsibilities a second thought, you may add years to your life.

Eating a healthy diet and exercising are typically the first things that come to mind when heart health is concerned. Both are important. A healthy diet consists of consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables. Also, choosing wholegrain products, selecting low fat meat and milk products and limiting products containing high fat and sugar contents contribute to a healthy diet. These choices should start at a young age.

Childhood obesity is on the rise, tripling between 1979 and 1999. Most of these obese children already have at least one other major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. As you incorporate healthy eating habits, be sure to include the children in your lives.

Exercising for a healthy heart, includes swimming, cycling, walking and aerobics. These activities should be performed at an intensity that will cause you to breathe heavier without being out of breath.

The American College of Sports Medicine guidelines on physical activity for healthy adults ages 18 to 65 are at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity at least five days per week. This level activity causes your heart to work harder, making it stronger.

Always use common sense when beginning a program, check with your physician and work into it gradually. Exercising for a healthy heart is not just for adults. Be a good role model for children and include them in daily physical activity.

Healthy food choices and exercising are two common ways to be good to your heart. Don't forget your sense of humor when seeking to improve heart health either. A good hearty laugh has been shown to help reduce problems associated with high blood pressure, strokes and other health difficulties. It will also make healthy eating and exercising fun.

Instead of becoming stuck in a routine where simple things become big things, such as waiting in a grocery line or driving behind a slow driver, try to find humor in the situation.

By finding a way to laugh, stress hormones are reduced and you feel better. What do have to lose? It sounds fun and it is fun. If you find yourself struggling to have fun, begin by smiling more every day. When you look at someone or something even mildly pleasing, practice smiling. A smile is the beginning of laughter and helps those around you smile, too.

Your heart works hard for you every day. Do your part in its well-being by making good dietary choices, exercising and by finding humor in your life. You may find that you become that person others approach to find out, "What is so funny?"