By Marie Arick
UF/IFAS Extension Liberty County
In these unusual times, embracing World Heart Day this September 29th could be more important than ever! The World Heart Federation uses this date to educate the world regarding cardiovascular diseases and the actions people can take to prevent or delay the onset of cardiovascular diseases including heart disease and stroke. The following is a simple three step action plan that one could implement in celebration of World Heart Day.
Action one: self-assessment
Waist circumference is a simple way to determine if you are at risk for health infirmities including cardiovascular diseases. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a waist circumference of 35 inches or more for women and a waist circumference of 40 inches or more for men places an individual at higher risk for heart disease. The NIH also notes that the higher the number, the higher the risk.
Action two: get moving
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) note just over half of the adults in the United States get enough aerobic exercise. Walking is one of the easiest aerobic exercises to perform; no special equipment required. Walking can improve your health by aiding with managing or preventing heart disease. Walking is a simple way to promote weight loss or maintain a healthy weight. Walking also aids with lowering risks and/or aids in the management of diabetes which is a risk factor for heart disease. Additionally, the National Institutes for Health (NIH) endorses walking for exercise as it aids in reducing anxiety and depression leading to improved cognitive function and self-esteem. Yet another benefit that can help during these trying times. Give it a try. Not one to exercise regularly? Start slowly. Begin with a small goal of 10 minutes daily and gradually increase the time and distance. Concerned that you have underlying health conditions? Speak with your physician to determine a walking plan or exercise regimen that is appropriate for you.
Action three: journaling or accountability
Using phone applications or a daily calendar can truly aid in accountability. Just noting time spent exercising or obstacles that occurred can aid with confirming the commitment to exercise. This is a form of personal accountability and tends to aid with the process of personal acknowledgement and commitment leading to a higher rate of follow through. Another option is to have an accountability partner. Accountability partners are great when you need someone to remind you of why you started the journey. No matter if you go it alone or include others, the commitment must be there.
Although our society is adjusting to our ‘new normal’ while navigating the Coronavirus, we can still embrace World Heart Day. Take the opportunity to assess our own personal health, get moving by incorporating walking into your daily regimen to not only combat cardiovascular disease, record your journey to aid with accountability and finally take charge of the course of our personal health.