Since 1963 the American Heart Association has proclaimed February as American Heart Month. Cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, are our nation’s number one killer. Their goal is to raise funds for research and education and pass along information about heart disease and stroke. In a 70 year lifetime an average human heart beats more than 2.5 billion times! This little fact amazed me, particularly since my husband, Ray, just turned 70.
Although heart disease is often thought of as a problem for men, more women than men die of heart disease each year. Women are six times as likely to die of heart disease as of breast cancer. Heart disease kills more women over 65 than do all cancers combined.
Barbara Schmidt, MS.Rd, lifestyle specialist at Norwalk Hospital in Connecticut states, “Exercise is medicine, and you have to incorporate it into your life. The number 1 way to raise HDL, the ‘good’ cholesterol, is through exercise….I describe HDL as the Roto-Rooter of the arteries.”
Lowering blood pressure as well as stress levels, both risk factors for heart disease, is another added benefit of exercise. My own experience with exercise, particularly since I started on my weight loss program, has been challenging as well as uplifting. I first discovered that in order to keep going I have to stay hydrated. As long as I drink water throughout my workout I have a lot more stamina.
At first I was discouraged because I just could not last. I started with 1/2 mile on the treadmill and would get so tired. This went on for about a week until I began to hydrate as I walked. As I built up my stamina I moved to a mile, then a mile and a half. Today I was able to go a whole 2 miles! My goal is walk 3 miles minimum each day to reach 10,000 steps! Would love to hear your exercise challenges and triumphs.