by Anna Marie Trotman

Think of all the ways we use a heart as a symbol representing of how we feel. We use hearts for anything from seeing a baby on our Facebook pages to expressing the love we feel for others. So it’s fitting that American Heart Month is shared with Valentine’s Day. While flowers and chocolate universally say “I love you,” American Heart Month is a perfect reminder that the best gift to our loved ones is a healthy heart and body.

Fun Heart Facts

In case you fell asleep in biology class I thought we could review some of the basics. Call me a nerd but I went to Google to get a few fun heart facts:

  1. The average heart is the size of an adult’s fist.
  2. Your heart will beat about 115,000 times each day.
  3. Your heart pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood every day.
  4. An electrical system controls the rhythm of your heart. It’s called the cardiac conduction system.
  5. A woman’s heart beats slightly faster than a man’s heart.
  6. The fairy fly, which is a kind of wasp, has the smallest heart of any living creature. The whale has the largest heart of any mammal.

There are many more fun facts but I don’t want to bore you.

An Inside View

Given the incredible complexity of how our bodies work, it’s nothing short of a miracle that we have this incredible mechanism that keeps us going and going and going. To keep the nerd factor going, I found this news story about a Harvard professor who created a film to encourage students to take biology. Even if you never sign up for a science class, here is a fascinating look at what goes on inside your cells.

The heart is made up of cardiac muscle tissue with a lot going on inside each cell. In order for each cell to do its job properly, we need to provide it with the nourishment it requires to keep on pumping.

Celebrate a Heart Healthy February

We need to nurture not only our hearts but our minds and bodies because everything is connected. You can certainly see with all that goes on inside your cells how important it is to nourish and take care of your heart as well as all the hearts in your family. In addition to some of the heart healthy tips we gave you for Super Bowl, here are a few more guidelines:

  1. Eat garlic to lower your blood pressure. Can’t reinforce this one enough!
  2. Read the labels. Processed food is loaded with salt and is not as nutritious which increases the risk of hypertension and heart disease.
  3. Buy a pedometer, use your FITBIT or download a fitness app, and put on your walking shoes. Make a weekly date with your partner or a friend to walk and talk together. It’s a great way to stay connected while adding physical activity to your routine.
  4. Find some good dance music and get physical with the kids. Dance-walk down the street and see how many people join you. I’m playing “Uptown Funk” for my dance-walk tune.
  5. Find your joy and laugh with family and friends. Humor is good for your heart and can help relieve stress. Enjoy a comedic film at home or go out to a comedy club. Imagine tickling your cells from the inside out.
  6. It is an incredibly powerful technique to take the time to connect with your heart. Sit quietly for a few minutes and focus on your breath. As you breathe in, see, feel, or imagine it to be so, that your heart is strong and healthy. Breathe out anything that can put unnecessary stress on your heart.
  7. Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be the only day for romance.  Set aside at least 1 day a month for an intimate, candlelit meal with your significant other or spouse, either at home or at a restaurant. Get the kids involved as well. Have a candlelight family dinner, let the kids help with menu planning, they can make the salad and set the table. See what they come up with.
  8. Make a date with your doctor for an annual checkup for both you and your partner. After your appointments, take time to thank each other for caring for yourselves and for each other, and then celebrate in a special way that only you and your partner know how.

When you put your heart, mind, and soul into even the smallest acts you will achieve success. Now give yourself a standing ovation and celebrate with a happy healthy heart dance-walk into a healthy new you.