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February is Heart Month

Did you know that February is Heart Health month in Canada and the USA? Heart Disease continues to be a huge health issue in North America and is consistently among the leading causes of premature death. Despite all the advancements in medicine, technology and access to quality foods, heart-related diseases claim the lives of millions of Canadians and Americans each year. This doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, heart disease is preventable for most of us if we are mindful of our lifestyle choices. Building a strong heart that is bulletproof from heart disease starts with our mindset and continues with the way we respect our bodies. Read through the following checklist to make sure you’ve got all your bases covered when it comes to having a strong, healthy heart:

  1. Increase Stress

The heart is a muscle and like any other muscle, responds well to acute stress by becoming stronger and more efficient. In this case, acute stress refers to intense training. As a reader of this newsletter and dedicated Strong Athlete, I don’t have to preach the benefits of intense weight training to you. I’ll just remind you that in addition to developing your skeletal muscles, weight training is extremely good for your heart. Another excellent form of healthy, acute stress for the heart includes high-intensity interval training. For a quick primer on interval training, click on this article.

  1. Reduce Stress

Although regular bouts of acute stress in the form of exercise are healthy and beneficial for the heart, too much stress can be lethal. The kind of stress I’m talking about is the chronic, draining, anxiety-producing stress caused by the following:

  1. Toxic relationships

  2. Poor work-life balance

  3. Obsessing about the past

  4. Worrying about the future

  5. Constantly comparing ourselves to others

Eliminating or drastically reducing stress caused by any of the above will work wonders for our well-being, happiness and overall health.

  1. Get Your Z’s

It’s no coincidence that heart disease is the number one cause of premature death in North America and the fact that millions of us are chronically sleep deprived.Sleep is the ultimate recovery strategy. A good night’s sleep helps to regenerate and restore all the systems within the body and helps us to perform at an optimal level. Most of us need 7-8 hours every night to be at our best. For more info on sleep be sure to check out coach Jen's info session on Sleep Feb 19th at 7pm at the Positive Image Fitness Studio.

  1. Upgrade Your Nutrition

The old cliché saying, “you are what you eat” is completely true when it comes to warding off heart disease. The foods we eat can fuel us to perform at peak levels throughout our lives, or they can clog up our arteries, damage our circuitry and take us out of the game early. This doesn’t need to be complicated. Start with proper hydration. Eat your veggies, especially your dark, leafy greens. Choose quality sources of animal protein. Make sure you are eating enough essential fats in your diet each day (i.e. fish oil, coconut oil, olive oil). And supplement with proven heart-protective products like garlic to give your heart everything it needs to keep on ticking until you reach 150.

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