Let’s consider February “Heart Health” Month. There are many things you can do to strengthen you heart, not just physically but emotionally and spiritually, too.
Let’s start with the physical. It’s a well known fact that cardiovascular exercise benefits heart health. During exercises like running, cycling or swimming, our heart has to work hard to pump blood to the entire body. The stress we place on the heart during these activities actually helps the heart to become stronger and even larger. The heart is a muscle that grows like any other muscle in the body. However, this does not happen with just one workout. Committing to an exercise regime assists the heart in adapting and becoming an efficient pumping machine. It pumps out oxygen-rich blood to organs and other parts of the body, which is essential for good health. Your resting heart rate is a good determinant of your heart health. Your heart rate can be measured by placing your middle and index fingers near your neck on the carotid artery or at your wrist (below the thumb). Stay here and count the pulsations for one minute. What is your resting heart rate? Healthy levels fall between 50-80 beats per minute. Athletes who train daily tend to have a lower resting heart rate and this signifies a strong, healthy heart. Keep in mind that there are other factors that affect heart rate such as caffeine, tobacco, low iron, drugs etc. Never assume any health condition, talk to your doctor.
How Often Do I Need to Exercise for Heart Health?
The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 times a week OR 25 minutes of vigorous activity 3 days a week to lower the risk for heart attack and stroke. Always talk to your doctor before starting an exercise regime.
Can I Take Anything Natural to Help My Heart?
Absolutely! You can take FISH OIL supplements or try to include more fish in your diet (at least 3 times a week). Fatty acids (EPA and DHA) positively affect blood flow and can lower blood pressure, reduce resting heart rate and even decrease inflammation in the body.
MAGNESIUM is a magnificent mineral that is great for the entire body, not just the heart. Some studies have shown that magnesium deficiency is common in people who have congestive heart failure. Magnesium intake or supplementation can protect the heart and aid in its function.
Increasing the amount of FIBRE in your diet can benefit your arteries, which are responsible for carrying blood to the entire body. Daily fiber intake should be 25-30 grams and most people in North America do not achieve half of the recommended intake! Try to incorporate fresh fruit, vegetables, legumes and whole grains in your diet. This can help keep your cholesterol levels in check and help to prevent colon cancer. Why wouldn’t you want to do that?
How Do We Strengthen Our Hearts Emotionally?
Well, if you have ever felt “heartache” you can understand the emotional connection. Heartache can happen after the loss of someone close to you- a pet, partner, friend or family member. It can also be a particular situation- breakup, loss of job, changing homes etc, creating an experience of sadness. Our emotions have the power to influence the physical tissue within our bodies, both negatively and positively. There are several books that exemplify this, including The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton and Anatomy of the Spirit by Carolyn Myss.
Can You Die of a Broken Heart?
There is a medical condition that brings people into the emergency room (90% women) called “Broken Heart Syndrome”. This syndrome resembles similar symptoms of a heart attack. Researchers showed that people who had this condition experienced grief, stress or emotional trauma. This condition actually changes the shape of the heart and if not treated can lead to heart failure. Really scary eh? With that knowledge, the aim is to try and heal the emotions that cause pain, both physically and emotionally.
How Do I Heal my Emotions?
Time can heal all things, but this is not always the case for some people. Daily journaling is a great way to understand your feelings and what emotions you might not be processing. Try answering these questions: What am I sad about? What do I need to do to release the sadness? What makes me happy? How can I achieve happiness in my life right now?
Meditation is another powerful way to connect with yourself and your emotions. Meditations that focus on the heart chakra can be helpful. Meditations that also focus on forgiveness can release negative emotions and create room in your heart for love and compassion. Even though the colour red is universally associated with the heart, green is the colour of the heart chakra; green for connection, growth and compassion. You can also try to wear more green to heal the heart.
Prayer and connecting to God, Source, Spirit can also release pain and promote healing and love. Cultivating love for self and universal love can help heal a wounded heart. A great book that can help you to learn self-love is Loveability by Robert Holden.
Seeking professional help can be very beneficial if you find you are struggling with your emotions. Don’t be afraid to reach out.
It is my hope that your February will be a month filled with love, forgiveness and happiness!
From my heart to yours,
Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy Family Day!
Dr. Jen Cisternino, Naturopath
“To love and be loved is the true joy of every human heart. There is no higher happiness than this.” Robert Holden