Wellness Wednesday: February is Healthy Heart Month

Beth Damon in GRCC's gym.

Emerging from the pandemic means many of us need to discard some bad habits and maybe even some extra pounds we picked up while locked down. Luckily, February is Healthy Heart Month, and is a good reminder of why it’s a good idea to focus on keeping the ticker in top shape.

GRCC is helping students and employees focus on all areas of health and wellness as we emerge together from the pandemic.

Wellness is a full integration of physical, mental and spiritual health. That includes physical health, but so much more. During the next year we’re also looking at emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual, environmental and occupational health, and how we all can work to help ourselves and each other.

There are many resources at GRCC to help all of these types of wellness. Each week, we’ll introduce you to people and places here on campus ready to support you on your wellness journey.

Beth Damon knows a lot about keeping hearts healthy. She’s a member of the GRCC Exercise Science Department, and has been a certified personal trainer since 1998. Beth is certified to teach a variety of exercise subjects, including kickboxing, mat Pilates, Zumba, and yoga.

Beth has a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and Psychology from Hope College and a master’s degree in education curriculum from Cornerstone University.

Now, there are many aspects to heart health, including eating a balanced diet and being mindful of stress and other challenges that lead to high blood pressure.

Physical activity is a key component, especially after times where we got used to settling in and binge-watching shows. The experts at Johns Hopkins recommend three types of exercise that are especially heart healthy. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/3-kinds-of-exercise-that-boost-heart-health

Aerobics, ideally 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Aerobic exercise improves circulation, which results in lowered blood pressure and heart rate. Brisk walking, running, swimming, cycling, playing tennis and jumping rope are good examples, and we have a great walking track, pool and fitness center here at GRCC that is free for students and employees to use.

Resistance training can help reduce fat and create leaner muscle mass. Research shows that a combination of aerobic exercise and resistance work may help raise HDL (good) cholesterol and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. Working out twice a week with free weights on weight machines, with resistance bands or through body-resistance exercises, such as push-ups, squats and chin-ups will help!

Stretching isn’t technically exercise, and doesn’t directly contribute to heart health. But the Johns Hopkins experts say it sets the stage for the other exercises, enabling folks to stay flexible and free from joint pain, cramping and other muscular issues — critical to being able to maintain aerobic exercise and resistance training.

The Centers for Disease Control have a whole tool kit to help with Healthy Heart Month and beyond. You can find it here: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/3-kinds-of-exercise-that-boost-heart-health

And, you can learn more about courses taught by Beth and the rest of the Exercise Science team here: https://www.grcc.edu/schools-departments/exercise-science/wellness-courses-we

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