As one of the hardest-working muscles in your body, it comes as no surprise that the human heart has a significant impact on the functionality of the body’s other organs. Your brain relies on your heart to deliver a continuous blood supply, so the healthier your heart, the lower your risk of developing dementia and heart disease.
With February being American Heart Month, it’s a great time to focus on how you can improve both your heart and your brain with just a few simple changes, including some surprises you can enjoy this season.
Stick to a healthy diet.
Eating clean, nutritious meals is one of the best things you can do for your body and your mind. Those who maintain a healthy diet typically have lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels well as a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Foods that are good for both brain and heart health include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meat, and fish. Limiting trans and saturated fats is another beneficial change you can make for your overall health.
Let yourself indulge.
While we still recommend moderation when it comes to sweets, letting yourself indulge in treats like dark chocolate can offer your heart some benefits. As long as the dark chocolate is high in cocoa content (and low in added sugar!), consuming it in moderation offers a good source of antioxidants, lowers your risk of heart disease, and increases blood flow to the brain.
Another example of an occasional heart-healthy treat is enjoying some grapes, whether as a glass of red wine or grape juice. Resveratrol, an ingredient in red grapes, has been shown to help protect blood vessels and lower your risk of heart attacks.
Get moving …
Research has shown a direct connection between fitness for the heart and fitness for the brain. All Touchmark Health & Fitness clubs and studios have state-of-the-art equipment. The Expresso HD bike is one example.This stationary bike gives users an interactive riding experience that is fun and works large muscle groups while stimulating the brain.
Resident and Club member Bill Hines discovered the bike is a good exercise alternative when he doesn’t take his road bicycle out on trails around Edmond. “I don’t want to sit somewhere and stare at the wall,” he says. “This gives me a way to feel like I’m really there. It’s neat. I can shift gears. I can steer. I can watch people pass me on the road and try to peddle faster to pass them up.”
A unique password allows riders to login and track their accomplishments and ride data, even allowing one to race against previous record times. There are also monthly challenges to helpkeep riders motivated.
We recommend individuals exercise for 30 – 60 minutes a day and include cardio, strength training, flexibility, and balance in their routines.
… and keep it moving.
Sitting is the new smoking, according to a study performed by the Mayo Clinic. While it may sound like an extreme claim, it holds true. After just 30 minutes of sitting, our body’s metabolism slows down by 90%, good cholesterol drops by 20%, and we become likelier to develop high blood pressure and blood sugar.
There is good news, though. Moving for just five minutes after 30 minutes of sitting can greatly improve your health over time. This small amount of movement will help protect your muscles from deteriorating, increase your energy, and assist you in keeping off unwanted weight.
If you spend hours reading or looking at your computer each day, investing in a standing desk can help you stay on your feet and get your blood flowing. Transitioning to a standing desk can also reduce back and neck pain, according to Start Standing. This transition may feel uncomfortable at first, but soon, your body will be thanking you.
Maintain your friendships.
Next time a friend or family member suggests you get together, say yes. Studies show that routinely interacting with friends and loved ones can improve your physical health by strengthening your immune system and fighting off common sicknesses.
While all social interactions can improve your health, face-to-face interactions are best. After all, humans are social creatures and have always done best when interacting within a community and social setting.
Having a healthy heart and brain starts by committing to these changes daily. To learn more about the different health and wellness programs offered at Touchmark, visit our website, Touchmark.com. Happy Heart Month!