For many of us in the fit-blogging community, losing weight is as much (or more) about being healthy as it is about looking better. As our sizes start dropping, though, it’s easy to get caught up in the external results and lose some of our focus on the really cool improvements we’re making inside our bodies.
February is American Heart Month, and now seems like a good time to focus on this somewhat important part of our bodies. The fine folks at sparkpeople.com have made it super easy for us by putting together this calendar with a tip a day for improving our heart health. (Gotta love a plan that includes nuts, relaxation, chocolate, and laughter, among other things.)
It goes without saying that healthy hearts are important for men and women (as well as for those in transition), but this year has a special emphasis on heart health for women. Check out these sobering statistics from the American Heart Association:
- Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women and stroke is the No. 3 killer of women. Heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases kill more women than the next five causes of death combined.
- Since 1979, the death rate for heart disease in men has declined by more than 17 percent, but the death rate for women has declined by only 2.5 percent over this same period.
- Minority women are particularly at risk for heart disease and stroke. For example, nearly half of African American women (45 percent) have some form of cardiovascular disease, compared to 32 percent of white women.
- More than 90 percent of primary care physicians don’t know that heart disease kills more women each year than men.
- Women are less likely than men to receive certain diagnostic testing and treatments, such as angioplasties and stents, for cardiovascular diseases.
- Drug and medical device effectiveness may differ in women and men yet doctors and researchers often don’t know how safe and effective a particular medicine or device is for women.
In the fall of last year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the HEART for Women Act (the vote was 418-4), and the U.S. Senate will have an opportunity to vote on it when it is re-introduced in mid-February. YOU can make a difference by sending a note to your senator encouraging an ‘AYE’ vote. The AHA even provides an easy-schmeasy tool for you to do so.
(Note: if you don’t live in the U.S., you can still support the effort by offering prayers and meditations, lighting candles, or crossing your fingers–whatever constitutes wishing us luck in your part of the world. We Yanks appreciate it!)
Finally, in symbolic support, Friday, Feb. 6th is National Wear Red Day. I’m wearin’ it, and I’ll have the photo to show for it! What would be really, really cool is snapping a pic of yourself and sharing it on your blog on Friday. More symbolic support, but it shows the world that We.Mean.Business in the fitnosphere.
Another cool thing would be if you’d spread the word about the HEART for Women Act. Don’t worry about linking back to this post–just get the word out!
As for my own heart health, I’m going to focus on fitting in more exercise in February. In addition to the stair climber at the gym, I’m going to put in more time on the treadmill at home. With the bedroom painting out of the way, I’ve got everything all set up again and ready to GO!
What will YOU do to improve your heart health this month? Let us know, so that we can cheer you on!!