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“’Straight From the Heart’” (Song by Bryan Adams)

“It feels so sweet to have a healthy heartbeat.”

February is heart month and what better time to talk about heart health. So, let's just dive in...

Fun ways to take care of your heart

In an article written by Dr. Payal Bhandari, M.D., for Advanced Health,, she lists unique ways to help keep your heart healthy. If you haven’t tried them all, there is plenty of year left to get a move on:

1. Laughter cures everything or so it feels. The average 4 year-old laughs 300 times per day, the average adult, only 4 times per day, if that. Start counting to determine your laughter meter.

Laughter increases blood flow due to the enlargement of the blood vessels, with the same benefits as aerobic exercise. Laughter is a powerful endorphin boost. Endorphins is the feel- good chemical our body produces naturally but decrease as we age. Endorphins decrease stress, increase immune cells, relieves pain, improves sleep and most of all endorphins flood the body whether we are physically active or laughing or walking or playing a sport. Protect your heart from heart disease by strengthening your heart muscle and tightening your abs through laughter.

2. Eat well. Finding a way of eating that is healthy and satisfying is key to a healthy heart. Lately, the Mediterranean way of eating is all the rage. There is something for everyone in this way of eating and it is easy to follow. It is all the best of the good foods and none of the bad foods. Good foods include, yogurt, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, olive oil, avocado oil, nuts, greens, fish high in Omega-3, high fiber grains. The bad foods include, fried anything, cheeses, milk, ice cream, chips, red meat, refined flour and of course sugar. A good way to avoid the bad kinds of food is to shop at local farmer’s markets when you can.

3. Music soothes the savage soul. Advanced Health writes: In a study by a nurse-led team at Massachusetts General Hospital, music was played for 30 minutes each day to heart patients confined to their bed. Relative to the patients not exposed to the music, the music-exposed patients had lower blood pressure, slower heart rates, and less distress.” Playing music while exercising, cleaning, or walking can really boost the endorphin production and help create a healthy heart.

4. Did you know that having a loving pet keeps your heart healthy? Petting a cat or a pet that allows you to hold it keeps your heart rhythm steady and owners tend to live longer. Dogs especially are a good heart supporter because of the extra exercise benefit from going for walks together and the way they are always so happy to see you. If you can’t own a pet, volunteering at a shelter will give you all the heart healthy benefits you need.

5. The other benefit of pet ownership or pet volunteering is the benefit of a hug. Human or animal, the healing power of a hug is the easiest, most soothing way to heart health. Holding your embrace with someone for at least one minute, you can feel their snuggle, you can feel their giving in, you can feel your own ease and intimacy. One long hug per day does a body and spirit good.

6. Acts of kindness doesn’t, at first thought, bring to mind our own heart healthy benefit but if you haven’t fully given kindness a try, you are sincerely missing out. Have you ever felt the heartful impact of a sincere “thank you”, or been affected by the overwhelming surprise of joy your gift brought to someone? Acts of kindness is powerful enough to bring heart health not only to the receiver of the kindness but also to the giver. Being kind causes a chemical reaction in the body called oxytocin. The oxytocin levels in our body rise and cause the fat chemical cortisol to drop. Cortisol is a stress hormone and when activated, it increases our blood pressure and inflammation to rise. Oxytocin lowers cortisol and improves heart health. Can you imagine, sincere acts of kindness everyday can keep your heart health with little to no medical intervention?

7. Exercise in all ways. There is no shortage of ways to have fun taking care of your heart: Walk 30 minutes every day on different trails and inclines, sleep 8 hours each night, build a snowman, chop wood for the fireplace or wood stove, go sledding or ice skating, ski, snowshoe or snow mobile, take the stairs whenever possible, dance around the house, blow up a balloon and play “volley balloon” around the house, have a push-up contest, get the whole family involved in heart healthy activities.

Did you Know?

The adult heart is about the size of 2 fists.

The heart beats on average 70 times per minute or 4,200 beats per hour for men and 78 beats per minute for women.

An adult heart pumps 7,500 liters of blood daily.

The heart starts beating approximately 22 days after conception.

The amount of energy produced by the human heart is enough to drive to the moon and back.

The Science of LOVE:

Guys are more likely to say I love you first.

The hearts of people in love are in sync.

Holding hands with a loved one can reduce pain.

We tend to fall in love with someone similar looking.

2.16 million marriages each year occur on Valentine’s Day.

Just for FUN:

Last year, Papa John’s Pizza sold more than 60,000 heart shaped pizzas.

Approximately 8 billion conversation candy hearts will be produced this year.

More than 36 million heart shaped boxes of chocolate will be sold on Valentine’s Day.

A study of over 20,000 participants found that those who ate chocolate had a lower risk of heart problems. Dark chocolate has less sugar and the higher cocoa ratio (antioxidant ratio) the stronger the benefit to improve the function of arteries, lower blood pressure, and decrease inflammation.

Eat breakfast every day. Not eating a good healthy breakfast creates the opportunity for clogged and damaged arteries. Pair a good breakfast before or after vigorous exercise and you start your day with amazing heart health benefits.

Good dental hygiene is also key to a healthy heart. Gum disease is closely related to heart disease. Gum disease can move into the bloodstream and cause inflammation in the blood vessels. Floss every day, brush every day, and eat a healthy diet of no trans-fat foods.

“The difference between TRY and TRIUMPH is the little UMPH you put into it.”

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