Human hearts are pretty awesome. Not only can they make us swoon over the perfect crush or the sight of a cute baby, hearts are hard-working muscles that deserve care. Like with most things in life, there’s good news and not-so-good news in the heart department.
Let’s celebrate the good news first. Coronary artery disease has decreased significantly in the United States in the past several decades, largely due to the reduction in smoking. If you’ve ditched the habit, we say good for you and your heart!
Unfortunately, nearly half of all Americans have some form of heart disease and, even more sobering, cardiovascular disease is the number one killer across the world. According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular disease kills 17.3 million people a year. In comparison, HIV/Aids, malaria and tuberculosis combined kill 3.86 million people annually—representing 31 percent of all global deaths.
Why are so many of us developing and dying from heart disease? For the majority, it begins with high blood pressure or hypertension. Other risk factors include tobacco use, unhealthy diet and obesity, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol.
What does this mean in practical terms?
Here’s the truly great news: “Controlling high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol can prevent a good 80 percent of all cardiovascular disease,” says the American Heart Association, adding that eating well, not smoking, getting enough sleep and regular exercise also are crucial.
For dedicated sofa spuds, that last bit of advice might sound daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Start by simply standing up more often throughout your day. A sit-stand workstation can be helpful in encouraging daily movement in your workplace or place of learning. And if you purchase a sit-stand workstation from Ergotron’s online store this month (U.S. only), we’ll donate $5 to the AHA as our thanks.
Once you’re up, stretch a little or take a five- to ten-minute walk. These mini breaks throughout your day can add up to measurable health benefits over time. In fact, the AHA says that doing just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day can help to reduce your risk of heart disease.
Here are some tips from the AHA to get you started:
- Start with small amounts of movement.
- Find an activity you enjoy doing.
- Ask a family member or friend to join you.
- Set realistic targets (do a little exercise each day).
- Gradually increase the amount you are doing.
- Build up to 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day.
Movement matters when it comes to heart health. Bottom line: any time you spend moving versus sitting is moving you in the right direction!