February is traditionally one of the coldest months of the year here in the Midwest, but our hearts are warm at Sunlighten! That’s because February is American Heart Month and we are proud to team up with the American Heart Association (AHA) in their fight against heart disease.
Our partnership began in 2005 when the University of Missouri–Kansas City conducted a study that showed a statistically significant reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure after using a Sunlighten far infrared sauna just three times a week. When the Kansas City AHA chapter saw the results, they were astonished by the significant results of an all natural treatment and approached us about their cause. It was only natural to support them in their mission of helping healthy hearts and it has become a such a big part of our company culture ever since.
Over the last 14 years, Sunlighten has teamed up with the AHA in many ways. Our owners, Aaron & Connie Zack, have served on the board, supported its Go Red for Women movement and a number of other fundraising events and have contributed $166,535 to the research that will build healthy hearts of the future. This year we are focused on their Life is Why campaign to help build a stronger, healthier community for our associates and our customers. Together we have the power to create more of life’s special moments.
In the spirit of Heart Month, here are some simple tips for a healthy and happy heart!
Manage Resting Heart Rate by Managing Stress
According to the American Heart Association, your resting heart rate plays a difference in your overall heart health and lower is better. For most people, a resting heart rate between 60 and 100 beats per minute is considered normal. It’s affected negatively by stress, hormones and medication. Getting into better shape can not only lower your resting heart rate, it could help save your life: Studies have shown a higher rate is associated with higher risk for death, even among people who don’t have traditional heart disease risk factors. Check your heart rate at rest, preferably first thing in the morning, before getting out of bed.
With looming deadlines, family schedules or just the craziness of everyday life, finding time to relax is easier said than done. Check out our natural stress management techniques to help keep calm and carry on with your life.
Don’t Skip the Cardio
Aerobic exercise (cardiovascular conditioning) can get the heart pumping and build endurance. Growing evidence over the past three decades has shown that low levels of cardiorespiratory fitness are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
If you have a cardio regimen, great! Keep it up. Mix it up with an afternoon run, cycling session or dance class so you don’t get bored. If you haven’t been active for a while, start slowly and gradually build to avoid injury or burnout. A dance off with the kids or a walk with the dog is a great place to start! Any type of aerobic exercise that increases breathing and heart rate has the ability to build your endurance if done regularly (3-5 times a week for 20 minutes or more). Try the Betty Rocker 30 Day Challenge which combines strength training with bursts of cardio.
Know Your Numbers
If you want to take control of your heart health, you have to know your body and listen to its queues when it gives you warning signals. According to Harvard Health, here are the numbers you should know and monitor for proactive heart health:
Get a blood test and know your cholesterol levels. “Bad” LDL cholesterol can clog up the arteries that feed your heart and brain – and increase heart attack and stroke risk. “Good” HDL cholesterol can help eliminate the bad, but only to an extent. The body also takes in additional cholesterol from certain foods – like meat, eggs and dairy. Switching to a low-fat diet can help lower LDL cholesterol. ¹
Try out our Chana Masala recipe. It is sure to keep your heart warm and healthy on a cold February night.
Having high blood pressure (also known as the silent killer) forces your heart to work harder than it should to do its job. Nearly half of U.S. adults have high blood pressure, yet many don’t know what their blood pressure is. When left uncontrolled, it is a major risk factor for heart attack, stroke and heart failure.¹ There are a plethora of affordable blood pressure monitors on the market to use in your home, on your time.
Blood Glucose Level
Usually part of a routine physical, blood glucose levels are checked to know if how efficiently your body is producing and using insulin, the hormone that helps move sugar from the blood into the cells. Having high blood sugar over time can damage the blood vessels and be a precursor to diabetes.² Nutrition and fitness can reduce the risk of diabetes and, in some cases, even reverse it.
Read The Quest for True Health with Ashley James to learn what actionable lifestyle changes she took to reverse type two diabetes.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
BMI is a measurement of your weight in proportion to height. While this is not a direct measurement of body fat, it usually correlates to body fat and offers a better assessment of a healthy or unhealthy body weight than the measurement of weight alone. Being overweight or obese puts strain on your heart and increases your risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, and other health conditions.²
BMI = (Weight in kilograms) divided by (Height in metres squared)
- Below 18.5 – underweight
- 18.5-24.9 – normal
- 25-29.9 – overweight
- 30+ – obese
We all want a slimmer waist for obvious reasons. But the most important reason is that too much fat around your midsection can increase risk for heart disease. A waist circumference of 102 centimetres (40 inches) or more in men, or 88 centimetres (35 inches) or more in women, is associated with health problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.³
How to Properly Measure Waist Circumference
* Video source: Heart and Stroke Foundation
For over a decade we have partnered with the American Heart Association out of our passion for healthy living and in our mission to empower others to improve their quality of life. With a few small tweaks in one’s lifestyle, you can build a happy, healthy heart. Visit www.heart.org for more heart health tips.