Did you know cardiovascular disease (heart, stroke and blood vessel disease) is one of the leading causes of death in Canada? [1]

This month is Heart Month at Marpole Physiotherapy Clinic and we have five simple tips for looking after this important muscle.

“Have you considered that the heart is a muscle? Just like any other muscle, the heart works best and most efficiently if you exercise regularly. If you can fit in 30 minutes of exercise a day then you can effectively reduce your risk of heart disease,” says our owner and physiotherapist Gordon Bohlmann.

“Walking to the next bus stop, taking the stairs, gardening, mowing the lawns…all of these activities count towards increasing your level of activity. So this week I challenge you to take at least one step towards a healthier heart.”

5 tips for a healthier heart 

1.     Move more
Incorporating more exercise into your day is vital for your heart and general health. Start off with small amounts of exercise; every minute counts. To make it manageable try fitting it into your daily routine so it becomes a habit, how about taking the stairs, gardening, hanging out the washing, swimming or heading out for a short walk? Try and aim for at least 30 minutes of activity every day.

2.     Don’t let a chronic condition hold you back
If you have a chronic condition such as arthritis you can still exercise and keep your heart healthy. Talk to your physiotherapist for a modified exercise program or test out low impact exercises such as swimming and simple stretches.

3.     Stop smoking
Quitting smoking is one of the most important things you can do for your heart and your health in general. Make 2013 the year you give it up. Help is available on the Smokers Helpline by the Canadian Cancer society at 1 877 513-5333.

4.     Manage your stress
Too much stress in your life can increase your blood pressure and the likelihood of your blood clotting. If you’re feeling under pressure then try taking time out just for you. Figure out what helps you relax. Exercising can reduce stress so perhaps a walk with a friend is the answer, or you could perform some simple breathing exercises while sitting in your office chair.

5.     Know the risk factors
Finding out if you have any risk factors for cardiovascular disease is an important step towards prevention and a healthier heart. You can ask your doctor for a heart check.

[1] Causes of Death. 2007. Stat Canada