Why Focus on Heart Health?

Contributed by Brandi Fitch

As February is American Heart Month, several free heart-healthy programs are offered to community members in Franklin County.  Why should you consider programs that focus on heart health? According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), about 647,000 Americans die from heart disease every year, which is equivalent to 1 in every 4 deaths. It is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States.

About half of Americans have at least one of the three risk factors for heart disease: having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. Diabetes, obesity, an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use are additional medical conditions and lifestyle choices that put individuals at a higher risk for this disease. While there are many things that can put you at a higher chance for heart disease, many of those are choices and can be changed for the better. Small changes to improve your heart health are great to start with!

When cooking, lower your salt intake by following these tips, courtesy of WebMD:

  • Substitute herbs and spices for sodium and salt
  • Rinse salty canned food, such as tuna, before using it
  • Avoid instant or flavored side dishes, which normally have a lot of sodium. Instead, try to cook plain rice, pasta, or grains without adding salt

Other tips to decrease your risk of heart disease include:

  • Limit alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks per day for men, and one drink per day for women
  • Be active for as little as 30 minutes per day. Hate going to the gym or exercising in general? You can stay active by gardening, washing your car, or just by cleaning your house. No matter what you prefer, just be sure to stay moving!

Heart Healthy programs being offered in February throughout Franklin County include:

Heart Healthy Grocery Store Tours: Attend FREE Heart Healthy Grocery Store Tours led by a clinical dietitian in Chambersburg on February 18th and in Waynesboro on February 25th. Learn how to read food labels and choose foods with low sodium. Learn more information and register here.

Yoga for a Healthy Heart: FREE 60-minute yoga sessions led by a registered yoga instructor will be offered at the Chambersburg YMCA on February 5th and 26th, and at the Waynesboro YMCA on February 24th. The sessions are designed for those who have never tried yoga and are looking for new ways to increase physical activity and reduce stress. Learn more information and register here.

POUND Class: Join WellSpan Health for a FREE Pound Class at the Chambersburg YMCA on Feb. 20th from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Keep your heart moving with this full body cardio-jam session, inspired by the energizing fun of playing the drums! Led by a certified POUND Instructor, the workout will combine cardio, conditioning, and strength training with yoga and Pilates-inspired movements. Feel the beat with your own lightly weighted drumsticks! Space is limited-register here.

Find more information about heart disease and what you can do to prevent it here. Visit Healthy Franklin County and Get Fit, Franklin County for other resources in the community that can help you be heart healthy!