Movement key to staying heart-healthy

        February is American Heart Month, and Mercy Health knows that staying active is one of the best ways to prevent cardiovascular disease, the number-one killer of both men and women.
        “Exercise really can be the best medicine. Doctors and scientists teach that physical activity can improve memory and brain health, help control weight, lower blood pressure, maintain blood sugar, reduce anxiety and depression, improve sleep, protect you from many chronic diseases, and improve heart health,” said Janet C. Spare, RN, clinical manager, Mercy Health - St Charles Hospital Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Outpatient Diagnostic and Rehab Services.
        Inactivity can lead to serious health complications and even death. Researchers at Harvard University found that a lack of exercise leads to one in 10 deaths worldwide. Those results become even more shocking when compared to cigarette smoking. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cigarette smoking is also responsible for one in 10 deaths.
        The WHO also shares that 80% of all heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes can be prevented through healthier lifestyle choices. That starts at home and can involve small, simple steps.
        First, let’s change the way we think about exercise. Instead of dreading physical activity, think of it as “me time.” After all, this is a time we are taking care of ourselves in the best way possible, Spare said.
        Next, turn off the TV and think about what you enjoy doing. When deciding on what type of activity is best, just remember the most effective heart healthy workouts do two things – increase your heart rate and cause you to breathe a little faster. Maybe a walk around your local mall or museum, take a dance class, play a little basketball, or even gardening.
        Stay positive. Think about how great you’re going to look and feel. After about three weeks of regular exercise, you’ll probably notice that you have more energy and are starting to see positive changes in your body. That’s because you’re restoring your health.
        For those who are recovering from a heart attack or other form of heart disease, cardiac rehab programs are customized, and medically supervised programs designed to help. The programs involve exercise training, emotional support, and lifestyle education like nutrition, learning your medications, and healthy mind support.
        “We have a team of very special registered nurses who work with your doctor to develop a plan that is unique to you and your need,” Spare said. “Every day makes a difference for a heart-healthy lifestyle, and we want to help you regain strength, prevent your condition from worsening, reduce your risk of future heart problems, and improve your health and quality of life.”
        For more heart health tips and to learn about the cardiac services available at Mercy Health, visit or call Mercy Health – St. Charles Hospital Cardiac Rehabilitation at 419-696-7612.


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