An article I read gave seven key tips for ideal heart health. My thoughts don’t often agree with the mainstream health industries. You or I could agree or disagree with most things that are written about health. It’s important to look at things critically, especially if they focus on your health. Don’t blindly accept what is published, even my blogs. You are responsible for your own health.
The first key tip is to never have smoked cigarettes or quit smoking more than one year ago. Obviously, your heart health will be better if you never smoked. The long-term effects of cigarette smoking on the heart is extensive – deterioration of the elasticity of your aorta increased stress on your sympathetic nervous system, and decrease in estrogen in women to name a few. If your heart improves, what about the other organs in your body?
So, I ask myself the following question as I’m reading this key tip to ideal heart health – can one year repair all this damage? I don’t think so, but I don’t know. Everyone is different. Smoking also increases your risk for lung, throat, mouth, esophageal, leukemia, stomach, bladder, kidney, pancreas and cervical cancers. Your risk is also increased for degenerative diseases of your bones and joints. Smokers typically have a higher chance of developing ulcers, thyroid disease, macular degeneration and premature aging.
The second key tip is to have a body mass index (BMI) less than 25. BMI or the Quetelet index has been around since the mid-1800’s when a Belgian mathematician, Adolphe Quetelet, defined the term. His index is simply the individual’s body weight divided by the square of the height. It’s not a measure of health, but a numerical assessment of thinness or fatness. It was a social measure to classify people, not a measure to indicate health for those people who were living an inactive lifestyle.
Currently, our medical profession interprets your BMI as follows – less than 17.5 and you are classified as having anorexia nervosa or a related disorder; less than 18.5 you are simply underweight; less than 25 and you are at your optimal weight; less than 30 and you are obese and over 40 you are morbidly obese.
Since the BMI is less than accurate for tall people, the Ponderal index was developed to better assess fatness and thinness. Overweight and obese people tend to have more health-related problems, many of which affect your cardiovascular system. I’m sure that most people will agree that being closer to the ideal weight for your height is healthier for your heart.
But, what about being underweight – a BMI less than 18.5? Underweight individuals tend to have anemia, hair loss, more stress, depression, malnutrition, dental and oral problems, osteoporosis, higher incidences of miscarriage, memory loss, digestive diseases, hypothermia, and infertility.
The third key tip is at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week. I am a proponent of vigorous and intense physical activity. I believe that exercising your heart muscles is definitely a key to a stronger and a healthier heart.
Exercise increases the number of free radicals in your body – they attack every cell thousands of times a day. Antioxidants through food or supplements help to fight this daily free radical battle. Exercise promotes a lot of systems in your body. But, like most things in life, there has to be moderation. I don’t think the time guidelines for this key to heart health are unhealthy.
I think it is a reasonable measure of exercise should define the types of exercises that you do. I prefer bodyweight exercises. I run fartleks rather than long-slow running. Fartleks put a maximum demand on your heart for short periods of time. Then you rest for a moment for allow your heart rate to approach the normal range – then you increase your pace again. I prefer heart exercises that vary the intensity of exercise to my heart muscles rather than keep my heart rate elevated for extended periods of time. Again, this is my opinion.
I will discuss the remaining four key tips for ideal heart health in the very near future.