Why do YOU work out?? If you were to ask most people this question, the common response would probably be to lose some unwanted weight or perhaps look and feel better. But what about to keep your heart healthy? Did you know heart disease is the #1 killer amongst women in the United States & Canada – more deadly than all forms of cancers combined?! Those stats just blow my mind and pulled on my heart strings!

You see, I have a looooooooong history of heart disease in my family. And for as long as I can remember, I would go to bed praying to God to keep my Dad safe – I was so afraid of him having a heart attack after hearing how young my Grandfather was (his dad) when he had his first. The funny thing (not really funny) was I always associated heart disease as something only men needed to worry about, and not something that affected women. Boy was I ever wrong!

Three years ago, after an annual check up with her family doctor, my mom was diagnosed with Atrial fibrillation – a condition involving an irregular heart rhythm, known as an arrhythmia. Two surgeries later, my mom is feeling great – but now, is even more susceptible to having a stroke, which makes me realize even more, just how precious our hearts are!

I might not be able to change my family history – but, by leading a healthy, active lifestyle, I can greatly reduce my risk! And so can YOU!!

Don’t worry, you don’t need to “sweat it out” for hours at a time in the gym to reap the benefits of exercise. As little as 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as walking, most days of the week can substantially reduce your risk of heart disease.

February is heart health awareness. I say we rally together and show our support by wearing red. I also challenge you to get more active. Here are 5 HEART PUMPING  ways to incorporate a little more activity into your daily life.

Park further away from your destination – All those extra steps add up!  Wear a pedometer and challenge yourself to reach a certain target of steps taken daily. Perhaps encourage your spouse or a friend to wear one too and make a game out of it. See who can take the most steps in a day.

Take the stairs – Opt to take the stairs! It’s a great way to burn calories, build endurance, and strengthen the legs. It may feel tough at first, but after a short while, you’ll be running them two at a time!!

Bike ride to do your errands –  Cycling is one of the BEST ways to explore your surroundings while getting some great exercise and fresh air. Plus, there is something about riding a bike that makes you feel like you’re 10 again!

Don’t just sit there and watch, join in on the fun – Play tag, throw a ball around or practice your hopscotch skills with your kids at the park Not only are you creating some wonderful memories, you are setting a positive example for your children. They look up to you and lead by your example, so make sure you’re setting a good one!

Do Intervals – Intervals are a great way to get your heart pumping, and by far one of my most favorite ways to exercise. They can be incorporated in so many different ways as well. Simply alternate short periods of intense activity with periods of lower intensity exercise. For instance, while walking you could walk to the first light post, then jog to the second, walk again to the third and so on for 30 mins. If on a treadmill, walk for three minutes, then jog for a minute, repeating for 30 mins. You can pretty much use this technique with any exercise by increasing the  speed for a minute every few minutes or so.

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