[Hooping.org columnist Shea Brock wants all hoopers to be heart healthy.]
by Shea Brock
Every year around this time as the air begins to chill and leaves of all colors fall from the trees, my mind begins to think of all the things I love so much about fall. I think of Halloween and costumes, of apple cider and pumpkin pie. I remember the nights of trick or treating and getting scared out of my mind at haunted houses and monster movies. My mind also takes me back to a time I would rather forget; the sound of the shoes of nurses squeaking on linoleum as they went about their jobs, the hissing of a respirator, the disinfectant smell of hospital hallways and what my dad now celebrates as his “second birthday.” The day the doctors stopped and restarted his heart.
My dad had what doctors often refer to as the Widow maker, due to the fact that most people that suffer a heart attack in this particular ‘branch’ of the heart are dead before they even get to the hospital. My dad was extremely lucky. His blockage was found during a procedure, so it was able to be repaired, but only by taking a graft from his leg. Every three seconds someone dies from heart disease and hooping is something awesome that we all can do for our hearts. Heart Disease is the #1 leading cause of death for women and more women die of cardiovascular disease alone than from the next four causes combined, including all forms of cancer. We need to give our hearts the love and attention they deserve and 80 percent of cardiac events among women can be prevented. Here are my tips for hooping up a healthy heart:
1. Exercise Exercise Exercise. I hate the gym and would rather have a root canal than get on a treadmill – “Really? Where am I going? I’m walking to nowhere.” However, with the American Heart Association urges us to get at least 30 minutes of moderate activity a day – thank god for hooping. Not only is Hooping an excellent way to burn calories it is also a great way to work out your whole cardiovascular system by making your lungs work harder and increasing your heart rate. And best of all it is much easier on the body than other sports like running and biking.
2. Get your ass to the doctor. If you are, anything like me the last place you want to go is a doctor’s office, and I am a nurse. All those people in white, the needles, and the questioning, ugh. But it is important to know what your numbers are. What Numbers you ask? The big three in my eyes: Your cholesterol, blood pressure and weight. There are not many things in life we can control, but when it comes to keeping your heart in check, it’s a good idea to make these three your bitch.
3. Have a fruit and veggie party in your tummy. So yummy So yummy! I love a good burger just as much as the next girl. OK, maybe a little more, but it really is all about moderation. Don’t stop eating what you love, just eat less of the bad stuff and eat more fruits and vegetables to keep your heart happy. And limit the amount of salt and fat you take in. And we all know what happens when too much of something bad comes to the party.
4. Drinking and a Smoking. Speaking of the party, I am a good southern girl who loves her whiskey. And just like with your diet, its all good – in moderation. A drink or two a night will not hurt, but putting away a six-pack a day does more than damage your liver. And we all know that smoking, no matter how much we might enjoy it, isn’t a good idea.
5. Stress Stress Stress. I am not only a wife and mom, I’m also a cardiac nurse in our town’s main hospital so I know a thing or twelve about stress. I got into hooping as a way to lose weight having no idea what an impact it would have on my stress level, and it’s the same with almost every hooper I meet. It is not just a touchy feely thing either. Dude, it’s a science thing. Hooping releases endorphins and endorphins are your body’s natural mood enhancers. In other words, “they make you feel good”. There has been many a lonnnnng day when my husband has said, “You’re stressed out. Do you need to go out and hoop?” Yes, yes I do! And while hooping is fun and something I love, sometimes when I just gotta do it I think it is my body’s way of saying “Girl, take a break.”
I also have a motto when it comes to your heart. Better safe than sorry. As a cardiac nurse the two most common phrases I hear from women besides “I need a break” are “I didn’t even know I was having a heart attack” or “ I cant believe I had a heart attack, I never had any chest pain.” This is sad, but true. Most women I know feel tired and run down on a daily, so it is hard to differentiate that from the weariness a woman feels when having a heart attack. Our hoop community is awesome and I don’t want to lose any of you. So I will tell you, my lovely hoop sisters and brothers, what I tell all my patients – if you feel uncomfortable pressure, pain, or squeezing in the center of your chest that lasts for a few minutes or goes away and comes back, listen to it. If you have pain or a “not right” feeling in your arm, back, neck, shoulders, or jaw, listen to it. If you have any shortness of breath, cold sweats, nausea or lightheadedness; listen to it. Okay? Good.
Our bodies are our greatest asset, both inside and outside of the hoop, so learn to listen to what your body is trying to tell you today. Get out your hoop and start hooping for your heart. And remember, the next time someone sees you hooping and tries to make you feel foolish or tells you to quit goofing off, tell them what you’re doing. Then ask them what they are doing to keep their heart healthy. Odds are I bet it isn’t going to be anything nearly as much fun!
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