You’ve no doubt heard someone say it is important to drink water. But, do you actually know why it is important? This article explains the body’s need for water and the role it plays in heart health. It also addresses the question: How much water do you need? Finally, it discusses the reason why water is the best drink in terms of hydration.
Learn more about the benefits of drinking water.
Too often we believe that the only way to make a positive impact on our health is by running. Not true. In fact, a study showed that walking briskly can lower your risk of diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressures as much as running. So, if running isn’t your thing, or you have an injury preventing you from running, it’s ok. Just walk. Each step you take can lead you closer to your goal of better heart health.
Learn more about the benefits of walking on your heart.
Physical activity is important to help prevent heart disease and stroke. As we age, we need to continue to be physically active. What we do may need to change, but the key factor is that we continue to move and burn calories. Here you can find suggested activities, as well the American Heart Association’s recommendation for the length of time and the frequency an activity should be performed dependent upon what your goal is. These recommendations vary depending on whether you are hoping to simply improve your overall health or if you have another specific goal in mind like lowering your blood pressure. Anything is better than nothing.
Learn more about the importance of being physically active.
Your body is your vehicle — keep your engine running with the proper nutrients before hitting the gym. Stick to quality carbohydrates, lean proteins and heart-healthy fats and fluids to maximize your performance. Stay energized with these pre- and post-workout tips:
Before your work out
1. Drink plenty of fluids.
Stay hydrated by drinking large quantities of water one to two hours before your workout.
2. Load up on carbs and fruit.
Have a small meal or snack that’s packed with carbs — like whole-grain pasta, rice or bread — and don’t forget to add some fruits and veggies. Try these ideas:
- Brown rice
- Banana with almond butter or peanut butter
- Multi-grain crackers with hummus
- Oatmeal with berries
- Apple and walnuts
- Smoothie (if you’re eating right before an intense workout)
3. Skip the sugar and fat.
Candy, cookies and other sugary or high-fat treats can leave you feeling sluggish. Grab a piece of fruit before your workout.
After your workout
1. Drink more water.
2. Refuel with carbs right away.
Enjoy a small snack that’s rich in carbs. The sooner you refuel, the better you’ll feel. Plan ahead and pack your snack (like a peanut butter sandwich).
3. Pack in the protein.
Have a hearty meal that includes lean protein like chicken, tuna or a baked potato to repair your muscle tissue. Here are some ideas to maximize your workout benefits.
- Salad with roasted chickpeas with light olive oil and vinegar
- Sauteed or steamed vegetables (sweet potatoes, spinach, broccoli)
- Salmon and lentils
- Quinoa bowl with black berries and pecans
- Multi-grain bread with raw peanut butter
- Whole grain pasta with chicken
- Beans, brown rice and avocado
These are general guidelines, so do what works best for you.
Are you guilty of saying one of these during the winter? “I’ll do it tomorrow.” “It’s too cold outside.” “I have too much to do to work out.” If so, you’re not alone. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when the days are shorter (and colder!) and the nights are longer.
Here are a few tips to help you stay on track.
1. Get the right gear.
Your wardrobe changes with the seasons, and this should include your workout gear. Make sure you stay warm.
2. Make a date.
Grab a friend and hit the gym for a weekly class. You’ll motivate each other to stick to your fitness goals.
3. Hold a DVD swap
If going to the gym just isn’t your thing, try turning your living room into a gym. Swap out your old fitness DVDs with your friends. This will freshen up your fitness routine and help you stay motivated to keep at it.
4. Switch it up a bit.
Try adjusting your workout routine to fit your schedule. If your evening workout isn’t benefitting you, switch it to the morning. The early-morning daylight may keep you motivated.
The old saying “there’s power in numbers” certainly holds true when it comes to exercising with a group. Working out with others keeps you accountable, motivated and supported — plus it’s fun!
It’s hard to skip out on your workout and stay in bed when your friends are counting on you. So lace up your shoes, hit the gym and enjoy the social time while you work out.
It’s easier to stay motivated when you work out with friends. Share your health goals to keep on track and stay focused.
This is key, especially when you hit a plateau or your workouts start to become challenging. The support of friends can give you that “who hoo” you need to push through.
Turn your solo workouts into a social experience. Exercising with a group can make your workouts more interesting and build connections. No matter your fitness routine, join a group to help reach your fitness goals. Remember, that’s what friends are for!
Don’t know where to start? Try joining an American Heart Association walking club.
Many of us spend too much time at our desks and don’t get enough exercise during the day. Here are five ways to make small changes to transform your work environment.
Set your calendar alarm to remind you to get up and move every hour.
Stretching is a great way to relieve the pressure on your neck and shoulders.
Use a small cup for water so that you have to get up for more.
Get some co-workers together and create a walking team. If your office is large enough, you can walk inside. Having exercise buddies will hold you accountable to get up and get movin!
Exercise right from your chair a few times a day.
Watch this video to get some of these moves.
Whether you’re walking, running or cycling, the most important part of your workout is stretching. Stretching helps protect you from injuries by warming up your muscles. The next time you’re warming up, try this fun playlist featuring songs that start out slow and help build you up to a powerful workout. It’s go time!
“Don’t Wake Me Up” — Chris Brown
“I Gotta Feeling” — Black Eyed Peas
“Knock You Down” — Keri Hilson
“Hey Ya” — Outkast
“Where Have You Been” — Rihanna
“Telephone” — Lady GaGa and Beyonce
“Diva” — Beyonce
“Feel Again” — One Republic
Did you know that listening to music can help you burn more calories? OK, it’s not quite that simple, but studies have shown that upbeat and fast-tempo songs distract you from fatigue and amp up your workout, which helps you burn calories.
Try creating different playlists centered around your workout. Pop or dance remix songs are great for a hard run or a spin class. Grab your headphones and zone out to your favorite beats while you achieve your fitness goals. Here are some of our favorites:
“On The Floor” — Jennifer Lopez, Pitbull
“Rolling In The Deep” — Adele
“Poker Face” — Lady Gaga
“On to the Next One” — Jay-Z
“Levels”(Skrillex Remix) — Avicii
“My Life” — Slaughterhouse & Cee Lo Green
“Gangnam Style” — PSY
“Whistle” — Flo Rida
“Check It Out” — Will.I.Am and Nicky Minaj
“Club Can’t Handle Me” — Flo Rida
“Harder to Breathe” — Maroon 5
“Who’s That Chick?” — David Guetta
“Bon, Bon” — Pitbull
“Mr. Saxobeat” — Alexandra Stan
“Tonight Tonight” — Hot Chelle Rae
Yoga is a great exercise that’s actually thousands of years old. Many people participate in yoga for physical benefits, relaxation and meditation.
Yoga has lots of benefits like:
- Improving your flexibility, posture and balance
- Strengthening and toning your body
- Lowering blood pressure
- Improving respiratory function and heart rate.
The benefits don’t end there. Yoga also increases your lung capacity, brightens your mood, increases your energy, relieves stress and tension, boosts immunity and improves mental functions like concentration, memory and learning. And according to an American Heart Association study, group yoga can improve balance in stroke survivors who no longer receive rehabilitative care.
You can reduce your risk of injury by learning yoga from a reliable instructor. Be sure to wear the right clothes, warm up properly before every session and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Don’t be shy — ask your instructor questions if you have them. And pay attention to what your body is telling you. Have fun, be safe and enjoy!