Let’s talk about the most important muscle in your body – your heart. In its most basic form, your heart serves as the pump to move vital life force to every tissue of your body. Without optimal functioning, one’s ability it live a fulfilling life is comprised.
We lived through a pandemic. Before, during and after this traumatic time the number one killer has been and still is heart disease. Many factors, such as family history, may predispose one toward heart disease, but there are controllable lifestyle choices that can help put you in control of your heart’s health. Metabolic Syndrome, a cluster of interconnected risk factors that include: obesity, high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes and abnormal cholesterol can greatly accelerate and increase your chances of heart-related issues. This disorder affects 1 out 3 adults and people over 60 are at a greater risk.
We must un-mask the toxic choices such as a sedentary lifestyle, overeating, poor nutrition, high sugar consumption, high stress, smoking and disordered drinking of alcohol and drug use that contribute to these risk factors. Instead, let’s make healthy habits the “hip thing” again!
We can do many simple things to improve our overall wellbeing, immune system and longevity, starting with moving more every single day. We can increase our non-exercise activity in addition to committing to a regular well-rounded exercise routine including: cardiovascular exercise, muscular strength and endurance training, flexibility and mobility for the benefits of increased range of motion and relaxation.
The heart has its own intelligence and hormones. It’s a pump and much, much more. We can tap into the power of our heart through a regular practice of meditation and mindfulness training to learn how to manage the fight or flight triggers in our everyday life as the hormone adrenaline can negatively impact our heart health.
In the Yoga Chakra System, the heart chakra is named Anahata in the ancient Sanskrit language which translates to unstruck or unhurt. This chakra or wheel of energy is said to govern the physical heart and lungs and therefore circulation, the chest and back muscles, as well as the arms and hands. It is here where we feel unconditional love, acceptance, compassion, and empathy. The healing modalities like Reiki, massage and pranayama or breathing exercises as well as back bending yoga poses are good for the heart. On an emotional level anger is very detrimental to our heart and the ability to forgive ourselves and others is very important to our heart health as well as the ability to express and receive gratitude.
We can learn much about longevity and heart health from The Blue Zones where people live to a ripe old age. Some of these people share similar habits that increase their lifespan such as deep social connections to their families and community, time spent in nature, diets rich in plant foods, alcohol in moderation, good sleep hygiene, active lifestyles that include structured exercise and unstructured movement for getting around like walking and biking, and moving for fun like dancing and gardening, and a personal spiritual practice.
This all lines up with Dr. Dean Ornish and his studies on reversing heart disease. His control groups practiced yoga and meditation together as well as group counseling. They ate a low-fat vegetarian diet and participated in 180 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week.
You can find more vital information on how to protect your heart health on the NIH website from The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
Let’s get outside, nourish our bodies, get our steps and let go of our stresses to pave the way to a healthy heart and lifestyle every day!