Happy Saturday everyone! I absolutely love the human body and learning about how it works. It is extremely fascinating and amazing that our body can function so perfectly. This is why I decided to go to nursing school! After taking anatomy and physiology in college, I knew I wanted to learn more and wanted to continue to learn in my career all throughout my life.

Today I want to focus on one of our most important organs: our heart! Here are some pretty sweet facts about this amazing part of our body (source, source):

  • On average, the human heart beats 100,000 times per day and pumps approximately 2,000 gallons of blood each day
  • A kitchen faucet would have to run for 45 days straight to equal the amount of blood pumped by the heart in the average human lifetime
  • It is scientifically proven that laughter increases the blood put out by our heart by as much as 20%! Laughter really is the best medicine :).
  • The heart has it’s own energy supply meaning it can still beat outside the body as long as it has enough oxygen.
  • Heart disease is the number 1 most common cause of death for both men and women

This last point is the most important for this post. Heart disease is not just something that people who are sick or old need to think about. No matter what age you are and where you are at in your life, all of us should be taking care of our heart!

How can we make sure we are keeping our heart healthy? By keeping our bodies healthy through well-balanced meals and exercise! (source)

Clipart Illustration of a Healthy Red Heart Running Past

Diet recommendations

Following the My Plate guideline (read more about that in our post here) will help you eat a healthy and balanced diet. This will also help fight obesity which is a huge risk factor for heart disease!

Some things to think about in your diet include:

  • Watch out for high calorie, high sugar, low nutrient filled food such as candy, soda, chips, etc.
  • Limit your salt intake. Watch for added salt in packaged and canned foods. The recommendation is to eat less than 2,300mg of sodium per day. Watch those nutrition labels!
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Women should limit intake to 1 drink per day and men to 2 drinks per day.

Exercise recommendations

Exercise is one of the most important things you can do for your heart health. Exercise strengthens our heart, increases oxygen consumption (remember how important I said oxygen was for our heart in my points above?), helps manage stress, helps manage weight, and lowers blood pressure.

  • It is recommended that adults get at least 20-30 minutes of exercise daily. This can be broken up throughout the day, it does not have to be all at one time.
  • Adults should try to exercise at least 4 days per week.
  • Aerobic exercise (walking, running, swimming, biking, etc) is the most heart healthy, but anything you can do is better than nothing!

Even adding a little bit of exercise into your routine can make a huge difference in the risk of heart disease. In a study done by the American Heart Association, the risk of heart disease was decreased by 14% by adding in just 21 minutes of exercise per day! With 43 minutes of exercise per day, the risk went down 20%, and with 107 minutes of exercise the risk was lowered by 25%. Here are their recommendations.  Any amount exercise you can do helps! 

Exercise is not just about how we look. It truly does shape our future!