Heart Health: Taking Small Steps Today to Ensure More Tomorrows
February is a month for hearts and not just the chocolate kind! Take inventory and start your healthy heart habits today.
April is Move More Month. What makes movement so important? According to the American Heart Association, increasing activity levels can help emotional and cognitive functioning, improve sleep, and allow for a better quality of life.
Is it time to create a new habit?
Make it automatic.
Are there new goals waiting to be set?
Make them measurable.
Looking to find motivation before you start?
Too many times motivation is the Catch-22 of making a change. It is easy to fall into unproductive thought patterns of comparison. I am not as driven as Mark, so I can’t commit to running a 10K. If I had the discipline of Shandi I could do that hike. I don’t have motivation like Donovan, so I won’t be able to get as fit as he is. However, motivation typically follows the new behavior, not the other way around. James Clear, author of the #1 New York Times best seller, Atomic Habits, relates it to Newton’s First Law of Motion. Objects (or habits) in motion tend to stay in motion. However, even more useful than the concept of staying in motion is the reality of momentum. The more mass an object has the faster it goes. The more reinforcement (mass) new actions are given, the easier the actions become. As momentum builds, less and less energy needs to be exerted to keep the action going. Knowing all of this, it’s time to get moving.
April is Move More Month. What makes movement so important? According to the American Heart Association, increasing activity levels can help emotional and cognitive functioning, improve sleep, and allow for a better quality of life. What then are some of the ways to keep a body in motion?
It is not uncommon to hear people pining for a slower pace of life. It is harder to find solitude than ways to stay busy throughout the day. From smart phones and watches pinging the latest reminder, to going to work, to scrolling through unwatched shows on Netflix, there is always something to do. Unfortunately, the amount of time available in a day is usually not commensurate with the time needed to get everything done. How then, can a person expect to find time to make activity a priority? Consider implementing some of the American Heart Association’s Healthy For Good, Move More Guide suggestions:
Implementing an activity plan from home can look different for each person. Roadblocks to activity can include limited space for exercise, physical movement restrictions, caregiving responsibilities, and more. The good news is being active does not just mean participating in structured workouts. If space is a problem, consider going for a walk. This walk can be anywhere from around the apartment, up and down stairs, or around the block. Want to move more but have physical restrictions? Consider looking at household chores as a way to increase activity. Dr. Mike Clark, DPT on behalf of Sharecare Fitness shares the following calorie burn estimates, based on a body weight of 150 pounds:
A laborer on a construction site doesn’t need to be as creative about finding ways to be active as a customer service agent in a call center might need to be. A worker who is unable to leave their station might opt for regular stretch breaks or toe tapping under a desk. Another option is changing positions regularly. Start with the traditional two feet on the floor sitting position. Then cycle through various positions such as lotus, half lotus pose, or cross-legged. None of these positions will stay comfortable for long periods of time, which in and of itself will promote additional movement.
In work settings that allow for more movement and autonomy, consider standing up to talk with coworkers or even making a meeting mobile by walking while talking. Increasing water intake can also inspire movement. Each trip to the water cooler, and subsequently the bathroom, adds more movement into the workday.
In an ideal world, injuries wouldn’t happen, bodies would never break down, and health wouldn’t be an issue. Implementing a regular stretching routine can help. Regular stretching increases range of motion and can lower the risk of strains or injuries. Additionally, stretching can help alleviate pain due to chronic conditions such as lower back pain. MedicalNewsToday recommends the following 10-15-minute routine of stretching each day, either first thing in the morning or right before bed:
Click Here for additional instructions for each stretch.
Inflammation can also be a hidden cause of pain. More and more research suggests that following anti-inflammatory diets can have positive effects on overall health. To reduce levels of inflammation, strive for a well-balanced diet. Diets high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, fish and healthy oils (like the Mediterranean diet) can lower inflammation and improve physical and emotional health.
Unfortunately, pain cannot always be controlled by diet and behavior modifications. When medical intervention becomes a necessary step in a person’s overall health, access to the prescribed medications becomes crucial. This is where PharmAvail can make a member’s prescription experience a little less painful.
With a network of over 67,000 pharmacies nationwide and mail-order programs available, members have access to their medications when and where they need it.
Human bodies are designed to move. While blog posts (just like this one) can provide endless suggestions, there is no right way to move more. Dancing, hiking, cleaning, stretching, playing – whatever movement is comfortable and sustainable can, and should, be implemented. So stop reading and get moving!