Love Your Heart during American Heart Month

January 30, 2015


February is American Heart Month and as a leading voice on improving the nation?s health, the YMCA urges everyone in the Chicagoland community to take steps to make sure they are heart healthy so they can lead longer, healthier lives."

February is American Heart Month and as a leading voice on improving the nation’s health, the YMCA urges everyone in the Chicagoland community to take steps to make sure they are heart healthy so they can lead longer, healthier lives. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the nation’s number one killer, responsible for 1 in 4 deaths each year in the United States. The Y offers programs that promote healthy living and chronic disease prevention to help support people in changing their lifestyles, encourage organizations and communities to adopt behaviors that promote healthy living and promote the public’s health through advocacy.

To address the prevalence of heart disease, the Y has made a national commitment to the Million Hearts campaign, an initiative spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that aims to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes.  As part of this commitment, the Y is developing a new national program that will help people with hypertension lower their blood pressure through coaching support and a proven self-monitoring practice. Research shows that the simple process of checking and recording your blood pressure at least twice a month over a four month period, along with regular physical activity, proper nutrition and reducing sodium intake, may lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.

“Heart disease is a critical issue for all Chicagoland residents and it’s never too late to get heart healthy,” said Sarah Sharon, Vice President of Fitness and Healthy Living for the YMCA of Metro Chicago Association. “Organizations like the Y have numerous options that can get you on the right path to avoid this preventable condition.”

Across the YMCA of Metro Chicago Association we offer an array of program and events designed to keep adults and children moving and their hearts strong. From our sports leagues and group fitness classes to our high intensity interval training and small group personal training classes, we have many options for individuals of all fitness levels. It is often a misconception that you need to do high impact or high intensity classes to give your heart a good work out. This isn’t true. Y classes like water fitness and strength building are great low impact classes that condition your heart and strengthen your whole body. In addition to our program offerings, we also offer family friendly events each month to help families stay active together and have fun. These Family Nights are offered each month at all YMCA of Chicago YMCAs and are open to the public for free.

Throughout the month of February YMCA of Metro Chicago Ys will be sharing a series of heart health tips on their Facebook pages. Be sure to like {if site_short_name == “default_site”}YMCA of Metro Chicago{if:elseif site_short_name != “default_site”}  YMCA{/if} Facebook page so you can learn more about ways to keep your heart healthy and strong. And be sure to share them with your friends. Because a healthy community is a strong community.

In addition to programs and services offered, the Y offers the following tips on how to live heart healthy.

  1. Get Physical:  Being physically active every day is fun and can improve the function of your heart. Plan and schedule opportunities for active play; for example, include a brisk 10-minute trip around the block after meals or a 10-minute walking break during the day. If your family enjoys active video games, select versions that require moving the body’s large muscle groups while playing.
  2. Take a Snooze: Lack of sleep has been associated with elevated cholesterol and blood pressure. Adults need at least seven, but no more than nine hours of sleep at night to aid with the prevention of heart disease. Children need 10-12 hours of sleep per night. Develop bedtime routines for the whole family to assist with falling asleep faster and staying asleep.
  3. Shape Up Those Recipes: Makeover your family’s favorite recipes by reducing the amount of salt and saturated fat and substituting a lower fat food without sacrificing taste. For example, use low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream and skip the seasoning packet and use pepper and olive oil instead. Read food labels to learn more about what is in the package, select foods that have less than 1,000 mg of sodium per serving.
  4. Feeling the Pressure: According to the American Heart Association, lowering or maintaining normal blood pressure can greatly reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. Nearly 1 in 3 adults (about 78 million people) has high blood pressure and more than half of them don’t have it under control. Start self-monitoring your blood pressure and know the numbers. Discuss the results with you doctor.
  5. Play Together: Spending time together as a family is a great way to reduce stress, which is important to heart health. Make homemade valentines for your children’s classmates or build a snow fort together in the yard or the park. 

The {if site_short_name == “default_site”}YMCA of Metro Chicago{if:elseif site_short_name != “default_site”}  YMCA{/if} offers a community of diverse individuals who can support all people in meeting their health and well-being goals.  Learn more by visiting the website or stopping into your local Y.