Friday Focus: Thank Your Heart

The heart is the strongest muscle in the body.

It has to be. Just think of all the abuse it gets–even from fitness enthusiasts.

Let’s start with stress. We all have it, whether or not we workout regularly. In fact, stress seems to live in my back pocket. No one has yet linked stress directly to effects on the heart, such as heart disease. But researchers know, for instance, that stress can increase your blood pressure, which can certainly lead to bad heart effects. Some studies have also shown that stress affects how blood clots, which can increase the chances of a heart attack. And of course stress can cause you to put your healthy lifestyle on hold by eating badly and discontinuing your workouts–all things that are bad for the heart.

Now, diet. You can have almost anything in moderation. But too many of us have trouble with the moderation part when it comes to foods that kill your heart with high doses unhealthy fats, sugar and refined carbs. Think donuts, potato chips, fries (heck, almost anything fried), processed cheese and soda. (Check these 10 Best and Worse Foods for the Heart). Step away from the bad stuff. Signed, Your Heart

Or course lack of exercise isn’t good for the heart, either. Failing to get enough exercise, in fact, may be the worst thing you can do to your heart! Exercise accomplishes a plethora of positives: it lowers your blood pressure, increases levels of HDL (good cholesterol), lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) and improves your circulation. What’s not to like?

What’s the right amount of exercise? A doctor will tell you 35-40 minutes of moderate exercise (increased heart rate, deep breathing; a brink walk, for instance) will improve your fitness levels. Well, I’m no doctor. So I say: Get your heart going every day! So something that gets that big muscle going every day–or at least six days a week! You’ll feel better, in just a few days. And because you’re shedding fat, you’ll not only look better but you’ll be making your heart work less.

Oh, I left off another enemy of the heart–love. Or at least it can be. Don’t worry, I’m not against good love. In fact, I love it! When it’s right, it’s so right that it’s almost illegal. But who’s heart hasn’t been hurt by love? If you raised your hand, then you’ve never loved–and that is no doubt the heart-est pain of all.

Challenge yourself!

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