The heart is functional symbol for so many things. Poetically it stands for love. Scientifically it is the organ that keeps our body functioning. Metaphorically it represents the center or source of an object, idea or identity. But whatever role the heart is playing, the importance of that role is always paramount. Which is why it is so important for us to make sure all of our hearts are happy, healthy and strong. Here are some ideas to help keep your heart on track.
- Cardiovascular Exercise A big one that most of us know, but here’s why: cardiovascular endurance is measured by how much oxygen is carried in the bloodstream and pumped to your muscles by none other than our hero of the day: the heart. Cardiovascular exercise improves your heart’s and lung’s endurance and ability to supply oxygen-rich blood to your muscles, and enhances the muscle's ability to use this oxygen to supply energy for movement. Keeping this cycle strong and healthy is what gives you the energy to move, breathe and enjoy life.
- Deep breathing Relax! We all know that stress is bad, but being in a fairly continuous state of anxiety releases adrenaline and causes your heart rate and blood pressure to increase. No bueno. A simple and extremely effective way to combat anxiety is to take 5 minutes out of your day for a little deep breathing. It’s as easy as that. Turn off your phone, turn on a timer, and then breath in for a count of five, hold it for a moment at the top, and then breath out evenly for a count of 5. The goal is to use the entire 5 counts to fill up your lungs entirely, and deflate them entirely. When you do this, you start a message relay to your brain, which sends it to your body and ultimately to your heart to CALM DOWN. Your anxiety will be reduced, and you heart can relax.
- Give yourself a compliment We happen to live in an image obsessed culture with a lot of expectations thrust upon us about how we should look. For the most part, those expectations are unrealistic and irrelevant to what is really most important: our physical health and well-being. But that simple fact does not stop us from feeling bad about ourselves sometimes, or being overly hard on ourselves, and that’s true for pretty much everyone. So try this: when you wake up in the morning, look your mirror self in the eye and say “You are an amazing individual, and I am so proud of you.” Or another compliment of your choice. And mean it. It’s not cheesy, and it can actually be pretty difficult to do, but remember a little self-love goes a very long way. Always keep a little love in your heart for yourself.