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    Protecting Your Heart Health

    A healthy heart is key to overall health.

    Heart health is increased by adopting a healthy diet, maintaining a positive attitude, and exercise. The national heart health month of February challenges us to look at our lives and change a few of our habits, to ensure better lives and healthier cardiovascular systems.

    Diet

    High amounts of trans-fat, sodium, and saturated fats contribute to plaque build-up and tissue damage from reduced blood flow to the heart. Healthy heart foods include good amounts of omega 3's and 6's with low amounts of bad fats. Salmon, flaxseed, walnuts, and blueberries are example of foods with strong anti-oxidants and lean oils that will help heart function and reduce the odds of heart disease. In addition, cut down on fried foods and consider baking and steaming your meals.

    Exercise

    Getting active can be a challenge in modern times, where people are living high stress, sedentary lifestyles. In between work, school, and parenthood it seems exercise just isn't a priority. As of 2015, statistics statethat 55.3% of Canadians exercise. These numbers are up from 2011 statistics. Low intensity exercise like yoga is a good place to start, and running and light stretches are easy and cost-effective ways to get active for short periods of time during the day. Short exercises combined over longer periods of time can reduce fat and improve overall heart health.

    Lifestyle Management

    Smoking, excessive alcohol use, and drug abuse are significant obstacles to heart health and weight management. Studies consistently show that excessive alcohol use and drug abuse create a strain on the liver, which in turn, creates a strain on the heart. While alcohol can be taken responsibly, there is no room for illegal drugs in a healthy heart regimen.

    So remember, these are only a few of the guidelines that you can set for yourself. Set a pace, and don't strain yourself. New exercise routines can be hard on hearts that aren't used to the pressure, so talk to your doctor about your new plan. Work on a weekly goal. It's all about changing your habits, and February is the time to start!