February Health Focus

February is American Heart Health Month

Your heart is an amazing muscle. That is correct: It is a muscle that needs exercise just like the rest of your body. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Every year, 1 in 4 deaths is caused by heart disease.

Here are some interesting facts about the human heart:

  • Your heart is made up almost entirely of muscle. It is strong enough to lift approximately 3,000 pounds – roughly the weight of a compact car.
  • The blood vessels fed by your heart are more than 60,000 miles long, and they could wrap about the world twice.
  • Give a tennis ball a good, hard squeeze. You are using about the same amount of force your heart uses to pump the blood out to the body.
  • The aorta, the largest artery in the body, is almost the diameter of a garden hose.
  • Capillaries, on the other hand, are so small that it takes 10 of them to equal the thickness of a human hair.
  • Laughing can be a great workout for your heart. Whenever you laugh, the blood flow in your heart is increased for up to 45 minutes, which in turn improves your heart health.

We can all help prevent being one of the 1 in 4 who suffers from heart disease by making healthy choices and managing our health conditions. Communities, health professionals, and families can work together to create opportunities for people to make healthier choices. Even long-time smokers can benefit from stubbing out their cigarettes. Within three years of quitting, the risk of heart attack for former smokers is the same as it is for lifetime non-smokers.

At the YMCA of Northwest Florida, we have many opportunities for you to keep your heart healthy. We offer a variety of group exercise classes; state-of-the-art health and wellness centers; two indoor pools (open year round) at the Bear Levin Studer Branch; and two outdoor pools, one at the Northeast Branch and one at the Betty J. Pullum Branch, which are open seasonally. Additionally, you can access a Wellness Coach at any time (included with membership) to help you design a specific workout routine based on your goals. Talk to a coach today, and let him or her help you create your road map to fitness.

It’s time to act. To avoid heart disease, GET MOVING!!! The risk of heart disease doubles for inactive people versus people who participate in regular exercise. Aerobic activity, such as moderate walking, swimming and biking, are the best choices for cutting your risk of heart disease.

Make the most of every opportunity to give yourself and those you love the opportunity for good heart health!

Our Mission: To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.