By Amanda Lerner
Fact #1. Heart Disease is a national epidemic.
Fact #2. It’s the #1 killer among women in the U.S. today.
Fact #3. 1 in every 3 women dies of cardiovascular disease, more than the next seven leading causes of death combined, including breast cancer.
Naturally, you’re concerned about your heart. You want to change your diet and lifestyle but you just don’t know how, right? Wrong. You’re a responsible, well-informed, intelligent woman. You’re up on all the latest news about disease prevention and good health. You practice yoga. You buy organic. You even converted to dark chocolate. You know the drill. Consume less meat, caffeine, alcohol, sugar, dairy, and take-out. Lose weight. Quit smoking. Add more water, veggies, fruits, leafy greens, whole grains, and complex carbohydrates. Get more cardio, relaxation and sleep. Be more spontaneous, ambitious, forgiving and spiritual. Breathe.
Ground-breaking news? Hardly. So, what’s the problem? Stress.
Stress is an inevitable part of life and can wreak havoc on our health if not addressed. Stress increases heart rate, blood pressure, glucose levels, free radicals and oxidative damage. It causes the brain to signal the adrenal glands to release cortisol, a hormone that triggers the “fight or flight” response. Excessive stress upon the heart increases its workload, paving the way to feelings of anxiety and depression as well as cardiovascular disorders – the subject at hand.
Cars break down, family arguments erupt, deadlines loom; we’re so irritable, frustrated and stressed out that we barely have time to breathe. We feel like we’re going to have a heart attack – and we may very well be on our way – (insert deep breath here).
But instead of addressing our mental, spiritual & physical health, we jump from Man to Martini to Marlboro to Mrs. Fields to Marc Jacobs stuffing ourselves with quick fixes. By continuing to seek instant gratification, the unhealthy cycle continues. Sound familiar?
Here are 10 tips to incorporate into your busy lifestyle so you can take charge of your heart’s future. You never know…you may end up helping your thighs and your love life while you’re at it. Wink. Nudge.
1. Practice Yoga to improve blood circulation, lower blood pressure and reduce heart rate.
2. Listen to your favorite soothing music to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and relieve anxiety.
3. Find a form of exercise you enjoy to strengthen your cardiovascular system. Physical activity lowers cholesterol, blood pressure, cortisol and other stress hormones.
4. Meditate regularly to diffuse stress, reduce blood pressure and respiratory rate.
5. Perform Kegel exercises while sitting on the subway or in a cab. Kegels promote better sex and stronger orgasms. Frequent orgasms may reduce the risk of heart attack.
6. Keep a big bottle of spring water on your desk (and don’t forget to drink it). Drinking water may decrease the risk of fatal coronary heart disease.
7. Follow a high nutrient diet full of anti-oxidants (blueberries), Omega-3 Fatty Acids (salmon) and Folate (dark leafy greens).
8. Learn to say no and mean it. Practice different ways to set limits and not take on too much.
9. Maintain a positive attitude. Highly optimistic people experience lower rates of cardiovascular death than those with high levels of pessimism.
10. Laugh often to increase immune function, blood flow and disease resistance. Join Netflix and add a couple of comedies to your queue. After all, laughter is free and has no side effects.
The Yoga PassBook contains 325 free passes to over 120 of the best Yoga, Dance, and Pilates Studios in New York. Each pass is good for a minimum of TWO free visits per studio, with many passes good for an ENTIRE WEEK or TWO–for a total of over 325 free visits and classes in all. Cost is $75. For details, please go to www.health-fitness.org/ny.html or call 212-808-0765.
For more information on doing Kegel exercises, follow this URL. www.mypleasure.com/education/sexed/kegels_for_better_sexual_health.asp
Netflix offers a free 2-week membership. Check it out at www.Netflix.com