Improve Your Heart Health, No Sweat!
Many of us come together on Superbowl Sunday to do two things that aren't so great for our hearts: sitting and watching TV. But because it’s officially American Heart Month, and heart disease is still the number one killer of adults in this country, we thought we’d share something that you can do, other than diet and exercise, that’s good for your heart.
Living Longer with Meditation
What do you think when you hear the word meditation? Probably not a healthier heart, but a new study in Circulation, an American Heart Association journal, suggests that you might want to look further into it. A group of 200 men and women with heart disease were split into two programs: one a Transcendental Meditation program, the other was a health education class. After 5 years, those in the meditation group showed a significant reduced risk for death, heart attack, and stroke as well as lower blood pressure and psychosocial stress factors. The results align with previous studies that have shown meditation and other mind-body interventions, can lower heart rate and oxygen consumption, both indicators of heart health.
De-Stress and Eat Less
Meditation helps lower stress levels as well as help improve emotion regulation. All this spells "a yes" for making better decisions. A recent issue of Appetite published a study that proves exposure to stress increases the drive to eat in normal and overweight individuals. What better way to fight back than to learn a new way to help you cope? If you’ve heard of mindful eating, you’ve likely missed that a usual part of a mindful eating program is meditation. The focus of meditation is based on focusing your attention to relax and calm the mind and body. When you’re focused, you can think about your goals more clearly, and take better care of yourself. Emotional eating is one of the biggest obstacles to weight loss, and meditation is another weapon to help you win once and for all.
From smartphone applications to CD’s to classes and everything in between, there’s no shortage of ways to get your meditation on. And don’t think you have to do Transcendental Meditation to enjoy the heart healthy benefits. There are many different types of meditation, as varied as workout routines, and they aren’t all about chants, sitting still with your legs-crossed, or deep breathing. Try different meditation techniques and find what works for you. As little as 10 minutes a day could help you improve your stress levels which will help improve your cardiovascular risk factors. Here’s an easy way to get started: Before you get out of bed in the morning, lie flat on your back, with arms outstretched and raise your knees. Listen to Minimal music or any soft music made specifically for meditation and stare at your ceiling. Of course, guided meditations, affirmations, and looking at specific images can be added depending on what works for you. Look at it as a must-do un-workout you should enjoy daily.
Do you meditate and which techniques have helped you maintain your healthy lifestyle?