5 Exercises for a Healthy Heart

Yoga is a great moderate-intensity exercise that strengthens the heart muscle while improving balance and flexibility. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Yoga is a great moderate-intensity exercise that strengthens the heart muscle while improving balance and flexibility. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

It’s National Heart Month! Here are 5 great exercises to maintain a healthy ticker (via Heart.com):

  1. Aerobics. Getting your heart rate up is essential for heart health. Try climbing the stairs, taking a brisk walk, or exercising on the elliptical machine or treadmill.
  2. Swimming, jogging, pilates and yoga. These are all moderate-intensity activities that work to strengthen your heart muscle.
  3. Strength training. This exercise does not increase heart rate, but is a great complement to aerobic exercise because it builds muscle and stamina, enabling you to do aerobic activities for longer periods of time.
  4. Balance exercises. These strengthen your body’s stabilizing muscles, helping you to prevent falls and injuries. Yoga incorporates many balancing poses. You can also try walking heel-to-toe, standing on one foot, or standing up and sitting down without using your hands.
  5. Stretching exercises. Stretching increases flexibility, and recent studies have linked it to improved cardiovascular health. Try adding 10 minutes of stretching twice per week to your regular workouts.
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5 Tips for a Healthier, Happier Valentine’s Day

Show your sweetie you care about their heart and their health this Valentine's Day. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Show your sweetie you care about their heart and their health this Valentine’s Day. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be all chocolates and candy. Follow these five tips to love yourself and your sweetheart even better (via Care2.com):

  1. Enjoy a healthy activity together. Start your day with something fun and active. Head out for sledding or ice skating, try out your roller skating skills at the indoor skate rink, or take your dog to the off-leash dog park together. Doing something physical also increases your energy level, priming you to enjoy the rest of the day even more.
  2. Enjoy a healthy meal together. Cook a favorite meal together at home, or head to your favorite restaurant for a night out. Choose a satisfying, but comparatively light dish to avoid loosened belt buckles and bloating (not romantic!). Another great option is an indoor French picnic, with light hors d’oeuvres, cheeses and fruits, all bite-sized so you can feed each other. For more culinary inspiration, check out our post on 10 red and pink superfoods here.Continue Reading …
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5 Foods for a Healthier Heart

The folate and iron in spinach help your body to fight off disease, and reduce your risk of developing heart disease. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

The folate and iron in spinach help your body to fight off disease, and reduce your risk of developing heart disease. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Show your heart some love by making these five heart-healthy foods part of your regular diet (via WebMD):

  1. Blueberries. The anthocyanins that give blueberries their dark blue color are also powerful antioxidants that give blueberries extraordinary disease-fighting power. Blueberries are also packed with filling fiber and vitamin C. Try them over cereal, in whole-wheat pancakes or waffles, or all by themselves as a tasty snack.
  2. Salmon. The omega-3 fatty acids in salmon are essential for a healthy heart. Bonus: Its high protein content aids in muscle building and recovery.
  3. Soy protein. This protein contains fiber, vitamins, and minerals — all the building blocks for a heart-healthy meal. A diet rich in soy protein can also lower triglycerides, which in turn will lower your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
  4. Oatmeal. This breakfast favorite is a great source of whole-grains, vitamins and minerals. It’s also rich in fiber, which can help lower bad (LDL) cholesterol. For nine health benefits of oatmeal, see our recent post.
  5. Spinach. Popeye knew what he was doing. Considered royalty in the vegetable kingdom, the multiple phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals (especially folate and iron) in spinach help your body to fight off disease, protect against heart disease, and preserve your eyesight.
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9 Reasons to Eat More Oatmeal

Try adding warm cinnamon apples and a splash of milk to your oatmeal for a tasty, filling and nutritious breakfast. (Image courtesy of FreeDigital Photos.net)

Try adding warm cinnamon apples and a splash of milk to your oatmeal for a tasty, filling and nutritious breakfast. (Image courtesy of FreeDigital Photos.net)

As National Oatmeal Month draws to a close, we share 9 great health benefits of this breakfast staple (via Care2 Healthy Living):

  1. Oatmeal stops cravings. Oatmeal and other complex carbs digest more slowly than simple carbs, keeping you feeling full longer, and for a fraction of the calories of other foods.
  2. It’s a high-protein food. Oatmeal contains one of the highest protein levels of any grain, aiding muscle building and recovery.
  3. It stabilizes your blood sugar and reduces diabetes risk. Oatmeal’s fiber and complex carbohydrates slow down its conversion from whole food to simple sugars, helping maintain steady blood sugar levels. Oatmeal is also rich in magnesium, which helps maintain the body’s ability to properly process glucose.
  4. It lowers your bad (LDL) cholesterol. Research shows that beta-glucan, a unique fiber in oatmeal, can lower your bad (LDL) cholesterol without affecting your good (HDL) cholesterol.
  5. It’s safe for people with gluten sensitivities. While people who are truly gluten-intolerant or have celiac disease should stay away from oatmeal, it is a great choice for those who have a sensitivity to the prolamines (proteins) found in wheat (gluten). Just be sure that the oats you eat do not contain gluten from processing facilities or nearby wheat fields.Continue Reading …
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16 Foods That Energize Your Body

The medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil offer a quick and effective source of energy. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

The medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil offer a quick and effective source of energy. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Keep a selection of these foods on hand to keep you full and energized all day (via The Huffington Post Canada):

  1. Water. Much like gasoline for cars, water is your body’s most essential fuel. It keeps all of your body’s cells working at optimum levels. To avoid mid-morning fatigue, start your morning with a tall (12 ounces or larger) glass of water.
  2. Almonds. Raw and unsalted almonds are a good source of healthy fats and protein to balance blood sugar levels, which can plummet when you don’t eat over several hours. Eating one ounce of almonds (about 23) also reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease.
  3. Quinoa. This grain is a complex carbohydrate, which is digested slowly to provide sustained energy and keep you feeling full. Try adding cinnamon, raisins and almonds to warm quinoa for an energizing breakfast.Continue Reading …
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10 Ways to Find More Time to Exercise

Get off the bus one or two stops early to add steps--and calorie burning--to your day. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Get off the bus one or two stops early to add steps–and calorie burning–to your day. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Between work, family, friends and everything else, you’re busy. Here are 10 ways to fit more exercise into your life (via Fitness):

  1. Turn your commute into a workout. When the weather permits, consider walking, running, biking or blading to work. Worried about the sweat factor? If you take public transportation to work, bring your sweats and sneakers  and jog home afterwards. Not a runner? Get off the bus a stop or two before yours, or park further from the entrance to get in some extra steps.
  2. Set your alarm early. You can adjust your sleep schedule (read: go to sleep earlier!) to allow you to wake up earlier. It feels great to cross off working out on your to-do list before breakfast. Afraid you’ll hit the snooze button? Sleep in your workout clothes, or set them out the night before, so that you can just get up and go.
  3. Sneak in a lunch break workout. Use those 60 minutes to your waistline’s advantage by fitting in a gym session or a long walk. You’ll also be more productive when you get back to your desk.Continue Reading …
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6 Health Benefits of Cold Weather

Though they may be uncomfortable at times, freezing winters benefit and preserve our health in more ways than one. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Though they may be uncomfortable at times, freezing winters benefit and preserve our health in more ways than one. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Brrr, it’s cold out there! But some evidence suggests that all our winter shivering is good for us. Perhaps it’s partly why Minnesota has the second-highest life expectancy of any U.S. state (we’re on to you, Hawaii). Here are six more health benefits of cold weather (via The Huffington Post):

  1. Cold weather burns more calories. Recent research has shown that simply being cold burns more calories, as your body workers harder to maintain its temperature. It may also trigger “brown fat” in the body, a good fat that can burn off other “white” fat.
  2. It brings us closer together. During periods of weather-induced isolation, you are more likely to reach out to your family and friends on the phone, and tend to chat with them for longer than usual, reducing stress and promoting happiness.
  3. It’s less favorable for disease-carrying bugs. Mosquitoes and ticks have a much harder time surviving in winter, drastically reducing your risk of contracting diseases they can carry, like West Nile virus and Lyme disease.Continue Reading …
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7 Ways to Stay Healthy at Work

Chat up a coworker for a few minutes to relieve stress and promote happiness. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Chat up a coworker for a few minutes to relieve stress and promote happiness. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Adopt these seven tips and tricks to stay fit and healthy during your workday (via MindBodyGreen):

  1. Kick your morning (or afternoon) caffeine habit. Caffeine’s quick high comes with an equally sudden “crash” later on, leaving you feeling even more drained. It’s also addictive and a diuretic, which dehydrates you. It can be a hard habit to break because it becomes part of your daily routine. Try replacing it with something healthy, like fruit or nuts, and find other ways to add pep to your step, like chatting with coworkers.
  2. Keep healthy snacks on hand. To ward off trips to the vending machine or office candy bowl, keep healthy snacks like hummus, veggies, fruit, nuts, peanut butter, and whole wheat bread handy for when hunger strikes. Snacking on nutritious food every few hours will also keep your blood sugar levels steady, so that you aren’t ravenous between meals.
  3. Be smart about breakfast and lunch. Busy schedules often mean more eating out, but eating out doesn’t have to mean foregoing good nutrition. For breakfast, seek oatmeal topped with fresh fruit or a veggie omelet. For lunch, hit the salad bar and load up on fruits and veggies. And whenever you can, bring food from home. It’s cheaper and allows you to know precisely what you’re eating (just check the nutrition label).Continue Reading …
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6 Fat-Burning Superfoods

Stoke your metabolic fire with hot peppers and cayenne powder. The compoundthey contain has a thermogenic effect on the body, helping you to melt more calories. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Stoke your metabolic fire with hot peppers and cayenne powder. The capsaicin they contain has a thermogenic effect on the body, helping you to melt calories. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

It’s true: these six foods have the power to increase your metabolic rate, helping you to burn calories faster (via Health):

  1. Whole grains. Your body burns twice as many calories breaking down whole foods as it does processed foods. Foods rich in fiber, like oatmeal and brown rice, are especially effective.
  2. Lean meats. These protein sources require about 30 percent of the calories they contain to break down in your body. So, eating a 300-calorie chicken breast will cause you to burn about 90 calories.
  3. Low-fat dairy products. Milk, cheese and yogurt are rich in both calcium and vitamin D, both of which preserve and build muscle mass. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you’ll burn.
  4. Green tea. This no-calorie beverage contains EGCG, a compound that temporarily raises your metabolism. For true calorie-burning power, sip four cups per day.Continue Reading …
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5 Health Benefits of Smiling

Smiling relieves stress, lowers blood pressure and even strengthens your immune system. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Smiling relieves stress, lowers blood pressure and even strengthens your immune system. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

It’s true: when you smile, you’re improving your health. Here are 5 ways smiling makes you healthier. Now that’s something to smile about! (via Care2.com):

1. Smiling lifts your spirits. Even if you’re not feeling it…put on a smile. The simple act of smiling, especially when you smile at someone else and they reflect that smile back at you, can cause your body and mind to feel happy.

2. Smiling relieves stress. When you smile, you are physically releasing your jaw muscles, which tend to be tightened in times of stress. The jaw muscles attach to the neck muscles and, when tightened, can lead to headaches. You also look less stressed since you minimize those frown lines on your forehead.Continue Reading …

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