Your Healthy Heart At Work
Relentless, the human heart doesn’t ever sleep until it’s time to sleep for good. Beating approximately 72 times per minute, perhaps its tireless, selfless labor represents the best parts of us. Surrounded by the ribcage, the heart is our greatest muscle of all, contracting and expanding like every other human muscle. However, unlike our skeletal muscles, every time the heart contracts, it does so with every ounce of its force.
The heart pumps the blood, carries all the vital materials such as oxygen, glucose and amino acids and removes waste products that the body does not need. Everything that the heart does helps the entire body to function. For instance, if the brain does not receive oxygen and glucose continuously, we will lose consciousness. Muscles require oxygen, glucose and amino acids as well as a divine ratio of sodium, calcium and potassium salts in order to contract normally. The heart provides these things, distributing everything through the body’s blood. That is why if the heart quits its job, the entire body will shut down after a dangerously short period of time.
A complex and intricate muscle, the heart consists of three layers, while the cavity itself is divided into four parts. There are two upper chambers called the right and left atria and two lower chambers called the right and left ventricles. Blood that has already visited the body’s cells and has already distributed its nutrients is drawn from the body by the right half of the heart and then sent to the lungs to be reoxygenated. After the blood has been reoxygenated, the left side of the heart draws it into itself and the blood is then pumped into the bloodstream. Essentially, the atria draw the blood from the lungs and body and the ventricles pump it to the lungs and body. Of course, this is an over-simplification of what the heart actually does. To learn more about the heart, visit www.theheart.org.
Don’t Break Your Heart . . . . . . .
It’s almost unfathomable to think that something the size of our fist can push and pull such large quantities of blood to every cell in our body. The heart pumps billions of gallons of blood in the average human lifetime. Throughout our lives, we must keep our hearts healthy. Just like everything else, if we don’t take good care of our hearts, a myriad of malfunctions can result. The following are some friendly suggestions for a healthy heart. Exercise is like reading--there’s something out there for everyone. For instance, don’t try taking up jogging for the fifth time if you know you will get bored with it after a month and drop it like a hot potato. If you detest climbing stairs, you may not want to hop on the stair climber or take a step aerobics class.
Too many of us associate exercise with torture and we willingly put ourselves through things we hate, making physical exercise rather short-lived.
The trick is to engage in a type of exercise that you look forward to doing throughout the week. Find a physical activity that not only gets your heart pumping, but fits your personality and your lifestyle.
Today’s gyms have a vast variety of creative ways of making the heart dance, from elliptical machines to group aqua activities. Some of us need group exercise classes (such as body toning and step classes) to keep us motivated and challenged. Some of us need to join the volleyball or softball team to make exercise a sport, a friendly competition or a playground of camaraderie. And then some of us just want to exercise alone whether it’s swimming, biking or jogging.
...TICK ... TICK ... TICK ... Goes Your Heart and Time
There is also your schedule to consider. Are you a morning person? Or is your snooze button all too familiar with the inside of your palm? This, along with your work schedule, should help you determine when to exercise. If you decide to do something solitary to begin with, start with a small sliver of time like 15 minutes. Think of it as time you may normally spend in front of the television. After you get into a routine, start increasing it slowly and repeat your exercise routine three to four times per week. You can also capitalize on pockets of time throughout the day. How about not fighting for that close parking spot? Why not take the stairs instead of the elevator? Stand up and pace while talking on the phone. Think of all the moments of the day you can capitalize on to become more active.
Smoking, taking drugs and drinking alcohol excessively places meaningless strain on the heart. Because the heart’s job is to pump nutrient-rich blood through the body and get rid of waste, toxins (such as the ones mentioned) will taint your blood and make it harder for nutrients to nourish all of your needy cells. Over time, these practices will make your heart suffer.
Scientific study has proven that smoking greatly increases risk of heart attacks and cardiac death. It’s never too late to quit. Since illegal drugs are foreign substances, they can certainly affect your heart. This is also the case with prescribed medications, except the difference is that because they’re legal, the doctor can control the dosage, thus controlling the effect the drug will have on your heart. The only way you can control the effect illegal drugs have on the body is to refrain from taking them.
Some Hearty Facts
The heart is linked to Valentine's Day because it was once considered the source of all human emotions. The custom of drawing a heart shape is believed to come from early attempts to draw an organ no one had ever seen. The symbol progressed to become known as a sign of love.
A person’s heart is about the size of that person’s fist. As the body develops, the heart grows at the same rate as the fist. This is the case at every point in a person’s life except in the womb during the first few weeks after conception, when the fetal heart occupies most of the fetus’ mid-section.
Heart rate slows with age. During infancy, the heart beats at 120 beats per minute. The average seven year old child’s heart beats about 90 times per minute. By age 18, the heart rate has stabilized to about 70 beats per minute. This essentially means that the heart is not fully developed until adulthood.
The heart is the most protected organ of the body. Located in the center of the chest behind the breastbone and between the lungs, the heart rests in a moistened chamber known as the pericardial cavity, which is surrounded by the ribcage. Below that is the diaphragm, a tough layer of muscle.
The heart is the body’s Fort Knox!
Something Else to Consider…
Aside from the above suggestions for a healthy heart also keep in mind the importance of integrating omega 3 essential fatty acids into your diet whether it’s through eating fish or through using a dietary supplement. The American Heart Association recommends eating foods containing omega-3 fatty acids to protect the heart. In the long run, your heart will thank you for it!
Following a heart-healthy lifestyle doesn't have to be complicated, and it doesn't mean you need to live a life of self-deprivation. Instead, find ways to incorporate heart-healthy habits into your lifestyle — and you may well enjoy a healthier life for years to come.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are five key areas to focus on when it comes to looking out for your heart.
Learn How To Love Your Heart
1. Don't smoke or use tobacco products: "If you smoke, quit," advises Sharonne Hayes, M.D., a cardiologist and director of the Women's Heart Clinic at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. "That's the most powerful, preventable risk factor for heart disease." When you quit smoking your risk of heart disease drops dramatically within just one year. And no matter how long or how much you smoked, you'll start reaping rewards as soon as you quit.
2. Exercise, exercise, exercise: Regular exercise helps prevent heart disease by increasing blood flow to your heart and strengthening your heart's contractions so that your heart pumps more blood with less effort. Physical activity also helps you control your weight and can reduce your chances of developing other conditions that may put a strain on your heart, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Exercise can also reduce stress, which may also be a factor in heart disease.
3. Get regular health screenings: High blood pressure and high cholesterol can damage your cardiovascular system, including your heart. But without testing for them, you probably won't know whether you have these conditions. Regular screening can tell you what your numbers are and whether you need to take action.
4. Maintain a healthy weight: As you put on weight in adulthood, you gain mostly fatty tissue. This excess weight can lead to conditions that increase your chances of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Even small reductions in weight can be beneficial. Reducing your weight by just 10 percent can decrease your blood pressure, lower your blood cholesterol level and reduce your risk of diabetes.
5. Eat a heart-healthy diet: Consistently eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products can help protect your heart. Most people, for instance, need to add more fruits and vegetables to their diet — with a goal of five to 10 servings a day. "There's a huge amount of data to suggest that fruits and vegetables are highly effective in preventing not just cardiovascular disease, but cancer and other diseases as well," Dr. Hayes says.