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Even your heart needs a little love

by Yvonne Lozano, staff writer

 

Here’s a quick quiz: Are you male or female? Are you human and living? Do you have a heart? As you answered “yes” to at least one of the previous questions, read on.

In this fast-paced environment, it’s easy to neglect that small organ in our bodies that is the very heart of our existence—really. That’s why last month, usually synonymous with Valentine’s Day, is also National Heart Month, reminding everyone that while giving others their heart on the day of romance, they can also make sure it’s a healthy one to give.

 

Heart disease is not just a symptom of age; it’s a consequence of an unhealthy lifestyle, and the time for prevention is now. Heart disease includes any one of the following: coronary heart disease, abnormal heart rhythms, heart failure, and others (the American Heart Association Web site has a link to a long list, for those who are interested.) According to the Association, heart disease is the No. 1 killer in America, accounting for more than 40 percent of all deaths last year.

Here are some ways to help reduce the risk of heart disease:

1. Put out that cigarette! Easier said than done, right? Well, keep this in mind; smokers have more than twice the risk of heart attacks than non-smokers.

2. Eat right and lower your cholesterol. Instead of ordering chicken nuggets or loading up on pizza, reach for heart-healthy fruits and vegetables. Using healthy oils, such as canola and olive oil, and substituting fish or skinless chicken for beef, pork, or processed meats can help lower cholesterol.

Don’t know what to buy when at the supermarket or what to eat when dining out?

Americanheart.org offers recipes and tips on eating healthy. Log on for suggestions and learn to stay fit forever, okay, longer.

3. Exercise. According to the AHA, 28 percent of Americans 18 or older don’t get any exercise. Being inactive leads to a 30-50 percent greater risk of having high blood pressure, which causes heart disease and affects nearly one in three Americans.

Here are some tips:

Have a gap between classes? Go for a walk or join 24-Hour Fitness (Bishop and King Streets) or the YMCA (Bishop and Vineyard.) Most gyms offer a student discount and the AHA assures that exercising, even at a low to moderate pace, can lower a person’s risk of heart disease.

Americanheart.org provides programs, such as “Just Move!” and “Choose to Move,” designed to help track exercise progress and gives tips for exercise success.

4. Stop stressing! Fretting over an exam or 10-page paper can cause unhealthy stress levels in students. Campusblues.com suggests time management and short/long-term goal settings. Setting aside 20 minutes of “alone time” to meditate or even take a walk helps.

Most importantly, communicate! Sometimes it helps to just speak to someone or write in a journal.
HPU also hosts College Survival seminars to help students of all ages who want to learn to manage stress.

 

 

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