Exercise Your Way to a Healthy Heart

Algebra has always been my favorite subject.  I used to derive a sense of satisfaction from being able to work those equations out.  But when I entered college and had close encounters with Calculus, my love for math fizzled.  I found myself dreading it like the springy hairs on my neighbor’s bare back.  The mere mention of the word “Calculus” made my heart beat double time.  I probably had to use one of those monitors on HeartRateMonitorsUSA.com to make sure that I wasn’t going to have a cardiac arrest anytime soon.

Now, I know better to stay away from unnecessary stress.   I’m not getting any younger, so I must make sure to do all I can to keep a healthy heart.

Regular exercise is a key factor in keeping one’s heart in top shape.  The operative word here is “regular”.  Don’t start and then stop your exercise regimen after some time.  If you’re just beginning to exercise, it’s best to start easy.  I, for one, have started to get the hang of running, but I didn’t set out to go on a marathon right away.  I began with a 3k fun run, and worked my way up to a 6k.  Slow and steady wins the race, remember?

If you’re not a running kind of person, you can always find some kind of physical activity to do which you enjoy.  You can opt instead to go dancing or biking around the block.  Just be sure to get your heart pumping 5 days a week, for about 30 minutes each time.

Now if only I knew how to keep the heart from being broken…


Mindfulness is the New Prozac

If instant stress relief and relaxation came in bottles, we moms would probably be making a beeline at the nearest pharmacy to grab one. With the harried lives we live, we wouldn’t think twice about grabbing every easy opportunity to wash away stress and worry from our weary minds and bodies. In between fixing the family dinner and doing mountains of laundry, we’d give an arm just to have some time to relax. Sure, there’s yoga and morning jogs around the block to help give us an endorphin rush, but there is another way to help uplift your spirits: mindfulness.

Mindfulness is defined as a state of paying attention to the present. It’s being mindful of the here and now, keenly observing your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without passing judgment as to whether they’re good or bad. You become increasingly aware of what’s happening, so you end up appreciating the experience all the more.

A mindfulness exercise can be as simple as deep breathing. Instead of breathing from your chest, breathe from your belly. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. It calms you when you focus on the sound and rhythm of your breath. This practice anchors your thoughts to the present moment, keeping it from floating away into “worry-land”.

Another exercise is totally focusing on the task at hand: whether it’s vacuuming the living room floor or folding laundry. Immerse yourself in the moment. Feel the vibrations of the vacuum cleaner as you move it across the floor, revel in the soapy water caressing your hands as you do the filthy dishes. For you to enjoy what you’re doing, first condition your mind into thinking that it’s not a chore, but an exercise in mindfulness. You will then be more receptive to its positive results. Listen to some slow-tempo music as you do this- it works!

Observing your thoughts is also an effective mindfulness exercise. This means to not involve yourself in the barrage of thoughts invading your head. Try to sit back and imagine yourself “observing” your thoughts as they pass you by. As you do this, you may notice that your mind will begin to simmer down and the thoughts may appear less stressful.

What’s nice about mindfulness is you can use it anytime you feel the need to, and it gives lasting results. It brings you overall emotional and mental health. Eventually, this well-being translates into your relationships. You are more able to manage your stress and deal with the people around you. So start practicing mindfulness. It’s free, and you can get it without a prescription. Works like pixie dust everytime!