Watching reruns of Mad Men is a shocking reminder of how smoking was once glamorized in American life. Only persons of a certain age can remember when smoking was allowed everywhere. Even airplanes had smoking sections and nonsmoking sections.
Now, most people understand the health risks of lighting up a cigarette. The chances of developing cancer, COPD, emphysema, and a host of other ailments has led to declines in the percentage of adults taking up the smoking habit.
But additional risk factors to cardiovascular health exist. In fact, the American Heart Association measures the cardiovascular health of Americans by tracking seven key health factors and behaviors that can decrease the risk of developing heart disease and stroke. The AHA calls these “Life’s Simple 7.” They are: not smoking; engaging in physical activity; eating a healthy diet; maintaining a proper body weight; and controlling cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar.1
All seven factors are important, but one of the seven stands out as especially beneficial and can even help achieve success in four of the others. That one factor? Engaging in physical activity.
Physical activity can help you achieve the correct body weight, control cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and control blood sugar. Not only that, physical activity has been shown to protect against dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression.
The physical activity does not even need to be strenuous. Replacing 30 minutes per day of sitting with light physical activity such as walking, gardening, yoga, dancing, and other movement can improve cognitive function, lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar, and contribute to cardiovascular health.
So get moving! Try the following ideas.
Do light activity for 10 minutes at a time, several times a day. Walk around your home, a parking lot, or a big box store.
Turn on some favorite music and dance! Or, just march in place. Getting your heart pumping is key. Again, a short duration several times a day works as well as one long duration.
Use household items as weights to build muscle tone. A bag of rice, a can of vegetables, or a cola bottle filled with water will all work nicely. Do arm curls with a light weight until it becomes easy, then advance to something heavier.
Are the other shoppers circling the lot for a space close to the store? Let ‘em have it! Park at the far end and walk. A brisk walk across the parking lot will do your heart good.
Wellness is an integral part of life at Parkway Village. Our wellness registered nurse and activities staff plan opportunities to learn about and practice healthy living. Come for a tour and learn more about wellness at Parkway Village. Call 501-202-1600 or visit www.ParkwayVillageAR.com to arrange your tour.
1 From https://healthmetrics.heart.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/At-A-Glance-Heart-Disease-and-Stroke-Statistics-%E2%80%93-2019.pdf, January 31, 2019.