“A Light Heart Beats Long” ~William Shakespeare
“Oh my beating heart” and other references about the power of the heart, feature prominently in literature, poetry, movies and music. As the symbol of love, a whole day is dedicated to the power of the heart! Sometimes we clutch at our hearts when expressing happiness or sorrow. Can our heart truly “swell” or “break”?
It may seem silly to think that our feelings have a direct correlation to the actual health of our hearts, however research demonstrates that our emotions can indeed affect our heart health. As famously represented in Poe’s The Tell Tale Heart, we can feel it beating at a faster rate, even “hear” it. The more anxious the narrator becomes, the louder and quicker his heart beats. There are very real consequences of emotional health on the heart.
Studies show a connection between heart health and depression. Poor heart health can contribute to depression and depression can contribute to poor heart health. Conversely, positive emotions can have a favorable effect on our heart health. Johns Hopkins Hospital researchers found the chance of a heart attack is reduced by one-third for those with a positive attitude.
Even the emotions felt from music can affect our heart rhythms. Calming music will slow our heartbeat down and loud dance music will increase our heartbeat. Hospitals have even used music therapy to help heart patients heal.
It’s fascinating that the organ responsible for moving the blood through our bodies is associated with emotions such as love and sorrow. Do you think we give our hearts so much emotional credit because it is such a powerful influence on our health?
It’s key to take care of our emotional heart as we take care of our physical heart. The American Heart Association examines this connection in many ways. February is American Heart Month, dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of cardiovascular fitness. They list not only eating healthy foods and exercising regularly, but developing positive emotional connections and strategies such as gratitude. They promote their Healthy For Good™ campaign including the themes to Eat Smart, Add Color, Move More, and Be Well.
Our hearts beat an average of 86,000 to 144,000 (60-100 per minute) times per day. Pretty powerful! Let’s all vow to take care of our hearts with these suggestions:
- Eating better can stave off chronic disease. Steps include increasing your intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Choose the Heart-Healthy dietary style in your DinnerTime profile.
- Maintaining a healthy weight reduces the burden on your heart, lungs, blood vessels and bones. Even moderate loss improves heart health.
- Exercising will can help with your cholesterol levels, weight and muscle tone.
- Meditating will reduce stress and help you feel happier. Check out this link to learn more about mediation.
- Quitting cigarettes because the smoke damages your blood cells, your blood vessels, and your heart function.
- Managing blood pressure in a healthy range reduces strain on the heart, arteries and kidneys. Check out this American Heart Association explanation of blood pressure ranges.
- Controlling cholesterol gives your arteries the best chance to stay clear of fatty blockages that reduce blood flow. Learn more about your cholesterol here.
- Reducing blood sugar can lower the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. Fill up with whole foods such as green veggies, lean proteins, and fresh fruits found in DinnerTime’s Heart-Healthy Diet.
Love your heart and those that love you by taking care of your whole self.
Remember to check out our heart healthy recipes in your recipe box. Just search for your favorite foods, and you’ll be able to easily see which recipes fit your health goals with the green, yellow and red indicators.