HAPPY HEARTS!

February is the month of sweethearts, love and Valentine’s.  The heart symbol is often used this month as a symbol of love and affection but did you know that February is also the official month set aside by the American Heart Association as American Heart Month?

Several companies have “red out” days and many celebrities dress in red, as well, to bring awareness to this sometimes silent killer – heart disease.  An estimated 44 million women in the U.S. alone are affected by cardiovascular disease and 90% of women have one or more risk factors for heart disease and don’t even know it.

This month’s blog focuses on keeping your heart happy and healthy.  Check out the recipes, exercises, tips, warnings and more to help you to know more about your heart and heart health.
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Top 10 Healthy Heart Tips

Courtesy of www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Healthyhearts

A healthy lifestyle will make your heart healthier. Check out the link below for the top 10 things you can do to look after your heart:
http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Healthyhearts/Pages/Healthy-heart-tips.aspx
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7 Surprising Heart Disease Risks
Courtesy of www.besthealthmag.ca by: Lisa Bendall

It’s well-known that fatty foods, smoking and inactivity are risk factors for heart disease. But new research has revealed some other risks that may surprise you.

  1. Know your blood type? According to the Harvard School of Public Health, people with type A, B or AB blood – that’s over half the population – have a slightly higher risk of heart disease compared to those with type O blood. In a new study, type A blood boosted the risk by five percent, type B by 11 percent and type AB by 23 percent. Researchers at the Department of Nutrition aren’t sure why the differences exist, but there’s evidence that type O blood may flow better and clot less, and other types may be higher in bad cholesterol.
  2. Sleep Apnea – Scientists are uncovering more and more evidence that sleep apnea, a disorder in which breathing periodically stops during sleep, is strongly linked to cardiovascular disease. It’s not easy to sort out cause and effect, especially when people with sleep apnea are more likely to have other risk factors for heart disease like obesity and diabetes. But doctors recently found that when sleep apnea was treated, odds of cardiovascular death returned to normal.
  3. Early menopause – It was recently found that women who go through menopause early – before age 46 – have double the odds of heart attack or stroke compared to women who experience menopause when they’re older. Although this doesn’t mean menopause causes cardiovascular disease – the women in the early-menopause group were also more likely to have other risk factors like high BMI, diabetes and history of smoking.
  4. Healthy weight but unhealthy belly – Obesity is a well-known risk factor for heart disease. But recent Mayo Clinic research shows that people who have a perfectly normal weight can be at an even greater risk of death than obese people – if, that is, their waist-to-hip ratio happens to be high. Lesson learned: Don’t assume your heart is healthy just because your body mass index (BMI) is low. If you have fat around your belly, that’s a risk factor to take seriously.
  5. Shift Work – People who do shift work are 23 percent more likely to have a heart attack than those who don’t.  One possible reason for the risk: This kind of work schedule wreaks havoc on the body’s circadian rhythm.
  6. History of child abuse – According to new research from the American Psychological Association, middle-aged women who remember being physically abused in childhood are at an increased risk for cardiovascular problems. In the study, these women were twice as likely as other women their age to have high blood pressure, high blood sugar, a bigger waistline and unhealthy cholesterol levels, which translate into a higher risk for heart disease. It’s possible that childhood trauma can lead to higher stress and poor diet, even decades later.
  7. Low Vitamin D – a study following over 10,000 people found evidence that low levels of vitamin D are linked to significantly higher rates of heart disease, heart attack and death. Researchers aren’t sure whether vitamin D deficiency actually leads to heart disease or is just an indicator of poor health, although they’re already working on the answer.
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GIFT CARD FOR YOUR SWEETHEART:
 
Benefit Personal Training has gift cards available for Valentine’s Day!  Give your sweetie the gift of fitness and a healthy heart.  Available in any dollar amount.
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Exercises of the Month: 6 Best Exercises for Heart Health
1.  Circuit Training
Any movement is better than sitting still when it comes to improving your heart health, but one of the best types of exercises to increase your cardiovascular fitness is circuit training. When you work out at a very high intensity, the blood starts to pump harder and that challenges the elasticity of the arterial wall; it sort of stretches the arteries and improves the elasticity for better cardiovascular fitness. Alternating between upper and lower body exercises (with minimal rest periods) is the ideal way to get maximum results.

2. Lane Swimming

Hit the pool for your heart (and lungs).  Lane swimming will give you a greater return on your exercise time investment than leisure swimming. Try progressing from 8 to 12 lengths of the pool per swim technique, varying techniques on different days. This could mean doing front crawl and legs only with a flutter board one day and then back crawl and breaststroke another day, etc.

3. Weight Training
Weight training is critical for people with heart disease.  In addition to building muscle mass, which will help you burn fat, weight training is also good for bone health and your heart. When it comes to deciding what type of weight training to do, using your own body weight, machines or free weights can be extremely effective. However, to continue progress, try adjusting the tempo of your movements and heaviness of weights to increase the difficulty as needed.  Getting help from a certified personal trainer can be helpful to keep you safe and on track.
4. Running  
A steady run is obviously an excellent way to stay in shape and is good for the heart but running intervals will really push your cardiovascular fitness to the next level. Whether it is sprints or hills, all you need is 10 seconds at a time (ensuring you go all out). This type of training will deplete some of the glycogen or carbohydrate stored in the muscle, allowing you to tap into stored fat more readily. Bonus!
5.  Yoga

You don’t have to be doing a high level of activity to increase your heart health.  At first glance, yoga may not seem like an obvious heart health activity, but it is. Yoga is great for strength and muscle toning, plus more active styles of yoga such as Ashtanga and Bikram can offer cardiovascular benefits, as your heart rate is elevated throughout the class.
6.  Cycling 
Regular cycling can substantially reduce your risk for coronary heart disease, according to a large study done by the British Medical Association. The findings revealed that cycling 32 kilometres a week reduced the potential to develop heart disease by a whopping 50 percent. Cycling uses large muscle groups in the legs to elevate your heart rate, which helps to improve not only your cardiovascular fitness but also burns calories, and has even been shown to improve mental health.
Tip: No matter what exercise you choose to do, 30 minutes, five days a week is an ideal place to start.  Try to build up to one hour, five days a week for optimum heart healthy benefits.
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Recipes of the Month: Halibut w/ Sugar Snap Pea Salad &  Spanish Chicken and Rice
Courtesy of realsimplefood.com
 
+ 50 other heart healthy recipes here:
These flavorful, easy recipes have an added bonus-they’re good for your heart, too.
Halibut with Sugar Snap Pea Salad
INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 12 ounces sugar snap peas (4 cups), strings removed
  • small red onion, thinly sliced
  • tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted (optional)
  • 6-ounce pieces halibut fillet
  • lime, cut into wedges

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the lime juice, ginger, 1 tablespoon of the oil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper.
  2. Add the snap peas, onion, and sesame seeds, if desired, and toss to coat.
  3. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Season the fish with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook until opaque throughout, 3 to 5 minutes per side.
  5. Serve with the salad and lime wedges—————————————————————————————————

Spanish Chicken and Rice
INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 TABLESPOON OLIVE OIL
  • 1 POUND BONELESS, SKINLESS CHICKEN BREASTS, CUT INTO 2½-INCH PIECES
  • KOSHER SALT AND PEPPER
  • 1 MEDIUM ONION, SLICED
  • 1 GREEN BELL PEPPER, SLICED
  • 2 CLOVES GARLIC, FINELY CHOPPED
  •  1 CUP DRY WHITE WINE SUCH AS SAUVIGNON BLANC)
    – 1 CUP OF CHICKEN BROTH CAN REPLACE WINE AS AN EVEN HEALTHIER RECIPE
  • 1 28-OUNCE CAN DICED TOMATOES, WITH JUICE
  • 1 CUP LONG-GRAIN WHITE RICE
  • 1 CUP FROZEN PEAS
  • ¼ CUP FRESH FLAT-LEAF PARSLEY, ROUGHLY CHOPPED
  • ¼ CUP PIMIENTO-STUFFED SPANISH OLIVES, CHOPPED (OPTIONAL)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. IN A LARGE SAUCEPAN, HEAT THE OIL OVER MEDIUM HEAT. PAT THE CHICKEN DRY WITH PAPER TOWELS. SEASON WITH ½ TEASPOON SALT AND ¼ TEASPOON PEPPER.
  2. COOK THE CHICKEN UNTIL GOLDEN BROWN, 2 MINUTES PER SIDE. ADD THE ONION AND BELL PEPPER AND COOK, STIRRING OCCASIONALLY, UNTIL SOFT, ABOUT 5 MINUTES. ADD THE GARLIC AND COOK, STIRRING, FOR 1 MINUTE.
  3. ADD THE WINE (OR CHICKEN BROTH), TOMATOES AND JUICE, RICE, ½ TEASPOON SALT, AND ¼ TEASPOON PEPPER AND BRING TO A BOIL. REDUCE HEAT AND SIMMER, COVERED, FOR 20 MINUTES.
  4. STIR IN PEAS AND COOK, COVERED, UNTIL HEATED THROUGH, ABOUT 2 MINUTES. STIR IN THE PARSLEY.
  5. SPOON THE CHICKEN AND RICE ONTO PLATES. SERVE WITH THE OLIVES, IF DESIRED.

Paula Jamieson

Certified Personal Trainer/Exercise Therapy/Sports & Fitness Nutritionist
Benefit Personal Training