The weather outside may be frightful,but walking for your heart always is delightful. For every hour of regular, vigorous exercise you do, like brisk walking, you can live two hours longer.
Research has shown that 30 minutes of exercise a day can:
• Reduce risk of coronary heart disease
• Enhance metabolism for 36 hours, allowing for increased caloric intake
• Improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels
• Help maintain body weight and lower obesity risk
• Reduce risk of osteoporosis, breast and colon cancer and Type 2 diabetes
• Enhance mental well-being
Don’t ignore your walking routine in the winter. Stay in the habit of good health, and use these winter walking tips:
Layer clothing. Layering provides the best insulation for a workout. The first layer (the layer closest to your body) should be thin and made of synthetic fibers (not cotton) that draw sweat away from your body. The second layer should provide insulation, be lightweight and dry quickly (such as a fleece shirt or sweatshirt). The last layer should protect you from the elements.
Cover head, hands and feet. You can lose a lot of body heat if your head is exposed. Cover your head and ears, or use a face mask to protect yourself from cold and wind. Your hands and feet, farthest from your heart, are the least insulated. Wear gloves, mittens and wool socks to protect them.
Use sunscreen. You can still sunburn in the winter. In fact, snow can reflect the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, increasing your exposure.
Drink plenty of fluids. It’s easy to become dehydrated in cold weather because you don’t realize you’re sweating or don’t want to drink cold water. But you need to drink as much in cold weather as you do in hot weather. Drinking water or sports drinks while exercising lowers your risk of dehydration.
Avoid alcoholic beverages before and after you exercise. Alcohol gives an initial feeling of warmth because blood vessels in the skin expand. Heat is then drawn away from your body’s vital organs.
If it’s just too cold or too hazardous to walk outside, consider these ideas:
• Start mall walking.
• Join a gym.
• Buy a treadmill.
• Walk at work.
Western Baptist is the area’s official American Heart Association Start! sponsor. If your workplace would like to receive a free Start! kit to begin a walking wellness program on the job, phone (270) 575-2777.
Get free heart screenings at Feb. 6 HeartCheck
Start heart month healthy by attending Western Baptist’s HeartCheck from 9 a.m. to noon on Friday, Feb. 6, in the atrium of Doctors Office Building 2. Get free heart screenings, including cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, EKG rhythm strip tests and respiratory screenings, as well as smoking cessation information. Cardiologist Patrick Withrow, M.D., vice president/chief medical officer will answer participants’ heart health questions and review screening results. Also featured are basket raffles, chair massages, jewelry and bake sales. All proceeds will benefit the 2009 American Heart Association Heart Walk.
How do I learn moreabout heart disease?
To learn more about the risk factors, symptoms and treatment for heart disease, visit westernbaptist.com/heart. You can take a free, five-minute online heart risk survey and become eligible for reduced-cost cardiac screenings at Baptist Prime Care. You also may phone Baptist Health Line at (270) 575-2918.
Send your questions!
Do you have a cardiac question tugging at your heart? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail it to HeartBeat, 2501 Kentucky Ave., Paducah, KY 42003. If we use it in a future HeartBeat column, you will receive a Baptist Heart Center T-shirt.