February is Heart Month!

Prevention is key! Did you know that 8 in 10 cases of premature heart disease and stroke is preventable through healthy lifestyle behaviours? (source Heart and Stroke Foundation)

Regular physical activity is a great way to improve your heart health. Here are some great ideas from the Heart & Stroke Foundation to keep active during the cold, winter months.

• Find a fun activity. As the seasons change, explore new outdoor activities such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
• Properly insulate your body. Layering provides the most effective way to stay warm and dry. The layer closest to your skin should allow moisture to be wicked away; avoid cotton because once it gets wet, it tends to stay wet. The top layer should be both wind- and water-resistant.
• Keep your clothes on. While you may be tempted to immediately remove layers when you go back inside, give your body time to adjust. If you are not wet, wait 10 to 15 minutes before changing into other clothes.
• Drink up. It's just as important to stay hydrated when active in winter as it is in summer, even though you might not feel as thirsty. Drink water before, during and after an outdoor workout.
• Use daylight hours. If possible, it's best to be active outdoors while it is still light out. If you choose to work out while it’s dark, try to wear reflective materials on your clothing to stay safe.
• Walk at an indoor location, like a mall. If you need extra motivation to get yourself going, join a walking group. Or start your own with family and friends.
• Sign up for activities at your local community centre (like Betel!). Choose from a wide variety of classes, zumba, body fit, dace class or yoga!
• Create a home gym. You can easily set up a great workout area in your living room or basement and buy some inexpensive equipment such as stretch bands and a stability ball.
• Climb stairs. Spend as little as five minutes at a time climbing up and down the stairs for a very intense and efficient workout.
• Get wet. Find a local indoor pool. Try swimming, water aerobics, or even just walking or running laps in the water.
• Visit a library. Sign out free exercise DVDs, including dance, step, aerobics and Pilates programs. When returning a DVD, choose another kind of exercise to keep you motivated.

Before starting any activity program, be sure to talk to your doctor or other healthcare professional.

For more information about heart health, please visit:
http://www.heartandstroke.on.ca/