LYONS – It’s no coincidence that February is National Heart Month. Heart disease continues to be the number one cause of death in the United States and is a major cause of disability.
In 2009, over 1.2 million Americans had a heart attack, which is about one every 25 seconds. Every 60 seconds someone will die from a heart attack.
Most articles that talk about how to prevent heart disease include diet and exercise. The proper diet and exercise are crucial when fighting this disease. But there is one more component that is equally as important: relieving stress. Science is supporting the theory that chronic stress can promote heart disease. Sorting out the effect of stress on the heart has been difficult. People react differently to different situations and there are several types of stress; physical, emotional and mental. When you experience stress, your body goes through a series of physiological responses that feed into your nervous and circulatory system that affect everything from hormones to heart rate.
Finding healthy ways to manage stress is vital to your future. Some ways of managing your stress are:
Have more fun – People who laugh daily live longer, have fewer health problems and tend to have a brighter outlook on life.
Watch the bottom line – Money worries are a major source of stress. If you need help budgeting, use a money management computer program or consider seeing a financial adviser.
Make time for yourself – Budget time each week to do something for yourself, whether is a romantic date, lunch with friends or going to an exercise class.
Share chores – Write down a list of things that need to be done daily/weekly and then assign them to someone in the family.
Eat together – Dinner is a great time to catch up on the day’s activities. Studies have shown that families that eat together five times a week eat healthier and are happier.
Go for a walk – Getting some fresh air and exercising your muscles releases endorphins. Endorphins are known for making you feel good and are natural pain relievers.
Volunteer – There is a strong relationship between volunteering and good health. Those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability and lower rates of depression and less incidence of heart disease.
Stop smoking – Heart disease is directly related to smoking. Nicotine causes both immediate and long term increases in blood pressure and heart rate. Smoking also makes blood vessels and blood cells sticky allowing cholesterol and other dangerous fatty material to build up.
Adopt a pet – Caring for a furry friend can lower your blood pressure and heart rate. While drugs can generally reduce blood pressure, they aren’t as effective on controlling spikes in blood pressure due to high stress levels. A study has shown that in groups of hypertensive individuals, those who cared for a dog or a cat had lower blood pressure and heart rates than those hypertensive individuals who did not own a pet.
Bronwyn Muldoon is a physical therapist and the owner of Lyons Physical Therapy on High Street. She is celebrating the 11th anniversary of her office in Lyons.Back to Top