You Gotta Have Heart! Keep Yours Healthy

Posted by Marie Buckey, RNC, MSN, School Nurse, Academy of the Holy Angels: February 6, 2020

February is National Heart Health Month. In the past, the medical community concentrated on men, but heart health is also a critical issue for women.

Did you know that heart health declines as early as your teen years? Known risk factors include alcohol, tobacco, vaping, lack of regular exercise, and obesity. Girls, more often than boys, are inactive and overweight. These are the two biggest hurdles to heart health.

Other considerations include general health, body mass index, blood pressure, medications, and illegal drugs. Family history, genetic makeup, and environment are also considerations.
Let's start with what you can control, including diet. A well-balanced diet includes portions from each food group. You don't need the “big breakfast,” but a good breakfast is essential. Cars don't run without fuel, and you can't run the mile without adequate nutrition. Lunch is NOT two helpings of fries.

Exercise is not a bad word! When you exercise, your heart pumps effectively, filling your lungs with oxygen. You don’t have to run marathons (unless you like to), but you need to move your body. You need to move like Jagger. Maybe Fridays should be "Dance Fridays." We could all change classes with music. Well, we can ask!

Stay hydrated. We all need water. In fact, you need 7-11 8-ounce glasses of liquid per day. The role of water in the body is well documented. Remember that sports drinks are for athletes after heavy exercise, NOT for lunch. Limit fruit juices and sugary beverages, too.

Caffeine is a stimulant. A teen’s metabolism operates at a tremendous speed. It’s not necessary to stimulate it to go faster. Caffeine puts a strain on your body, including your heart and lungs. Keep in mind that caffeine detox can take up to two weeks.

Growing women need 8-9 hours of sleep per night in order to rest and renew the body's cells. In bed, turn off the lights and ditch the computer. I recommend turning the phone off, too. One morning, my phone rang at 4:30 a.m. My first thought was "snow day," but it was an unwanted sales call.
Your weight is a subject to be discussed with your physician, not your friends. The doctor is the best source of information regarding your ideal weight range according to age and height. If you need to adjust your diet, do it under a physician’s supervision. The foods you require to maintain good health must not be eliminated. 
Your heart is the strongest muscle in your body. It’s responsible for more than pumping blood. Guard your heart. It’s vital to a happy and healthy life. As the wizard told the Cowardly Lion, "Hearts will never be practical until they are made unbreakable."


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