It has been almost three months since National Start Walking Day.
You still walking?
(Need me to remind you that walking, even briefly, has been shown to lessen chocolate cravings?)
Im back to nag you again & Im armed with treats more info from the American Heart Association.
By this point I think most of us have heard the statistic that coronary heart disease is the single leading cause of death for American women.
By this date I think most of us have read *somewhere* that, while many of us believed cancer to be more of a threat, nearly twice as many women die of heart disease, stroke & other cardiovascular diseases as from all forms of cancer combined.
(Brace yourself. Here’s where we talk risk factors & are faced with the fact that some of these factors are out of our control.)
Heart disease risk factors we’re stuck with:
*Aging (REMINDER: less than 30 shopping days till MizFit’s heart turns 40). ‘Nuff said. There’s no way around this one.
* Sex (insert joke here) — Men have a greater risk of heart attack than women, however, each year approximately 55,000 more women than men have strokes & 60 percent of total stroke deaths are female.
* Genetics — Both sexes are more likely to develop heart disease/stroke if relatives have had them. African American women have a greater risk of heart disease/stroke than white women. African-American men and women are more likely to die of stroke.
What risk factors are somewhat under our control (*cue confetti shaped like teeny tiny hearts*)?
*Smoking — Smoking is a major cause of cardiovascular heart disease among women. Secondhand smoke can increase risk even for lifelong non-smokers. Women smokers who use birth control pills have a higher risk of heart attack and stroke than nonsmokers who use them.
* High blood cholesterol — This is a major risk factor for heart disease & increases the risk of stroke. High levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) raise the risk of heart disease and heart attack. High levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) lower the risk of heart disease. Research has shown that low levels of HDL cholesterol seem to be a stronger risk factor for women than for men.
* High blood pressure — High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart attack and the most important risk factor for stroke.
* Physical inactivity — Studies show that lack of physical activity is a risk factor for heart disease and indirectly increases the risk of stroke. Heart disease is almost twice as likely to develop in inactive people than in those who regularly Move it! Move it! (to quote the Toddler Tornado).The American Heart Association recommends accumulating at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most or all days of the week. (MizFit recommends more BUT 30 minutes or less is a great place to start!)
* Obesity and overweight — If you havehigh levels of bodyfat (especially if the majority of it is located in your waist) you’re at higher risk for health problems, including high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, high triglycerides, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
* Lottsa Alcohol — The risk of heart disease in people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol (an average of one drink for women per day) is lower than in nondrinkers. (MizFit Note: CHIME IN HERE, please. Im not a drinker. Are you? Have you added in wine as a heart-helper? I havent…yet.) Excessive drinking and binge drinking can contribute to obesity, high triglycerides, cancer and other diseases, raise blood pressure, cause heart failure and lead to stroke.
*STRESS — Research isnt perfectly conclusive on this one yet (read: no great studies to cite) yet Im completely sold on the idea that stress does, indeed, play a role in the development of heart disease
Thoroughly overwhelmed? DONT BE.
Im also here to remind you that improving your heart health doesn’t have to be a major undertaking.
It really can be as simple to change the risk factors which are under our control as layering small healthy choices on upon each other until, over time, they add up to bigger changes.
That notion of small steps to big changes is is totally why this avowed non-joiner loves the notion behind the American Heart Associations BetterU program.
It’s a free (woo hoo!) 12 week nutrition & fitness program which is geared to help us makeover our hearts (which, even after Monday’s post, is the most important makeover we can do).
The free (did I mention that yet?) program includes 12 weeks of courses, daily healthy living tips, & structured long term and short term goal setting (love that).
Even I realize this is a lot of info and a heavy topic for a Friday (types the woman who has a strong genetic predisposition to cardiovascular disease).
Let’s lighten it up a bit—shall we? Focus on the positive perhaps?
Ive a treat for you & all you need to do to enter (man or woman) is give a shout out to the ONE THING youre gonna do this weekend for your heart.
What babystep you will take in an effort to defeat the risk factors which are under our control.
Please to hit us all up in the comments & you mightcould win the bounty below.
The BetterU, BetterMe Kit
The kit has everything you need to start the BetterU program, including:
o Super-cute tote bag for the gym
o BPA-free water bottle
o Go Red Grocery Guide to help you make heart-healthy choices at the store
o Go Red yoga mat
o Our signature red dress pin
o Heart-healthy snack, Craisins
(USA only. Winner announced Monday)