Carolinas HealthCare System
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Your Heart is a Muscle – Keep it Strong with Exercise

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You probably know that exercising is good for your heart, but you may not realize that your heart is actually a muscle that requires regular "workouts" to keep it beating stronger longer … just like your biceps or your triceps!

"Of all the muscles you work during exercise, your heart is the most important," said Lauren Gibson, MS, ACSM-RCEP, registered clinical exercise physiologist with Carolinas HealthCare System's Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute. Gibson works with patients who are taking part in cardiac rehabilitation programs as part of their treatment for and recovery from a heart attack or other heart event. But, doctors agree that working your heart muscle through regular exercise could very well help keep you OUT of cardiac rehab by preventing heart disease.

"Absolutely. In combination with healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle, exercise will help keep your heart healthy," said Jeremy Carter, MD, from Harrisburg Family Physicians, part of Carolinas HealthCare System. "Muscles need to be exercised in order to keep them in good working condition. Your heart is no different. In fact, it requires special attention because it works SO hard to keep your body going strong."

Just a Day's Work

The average adult body contains about five quarts of blood. Your heart's job is to get that blood moving throughout your body. With each beat, your heart pumps about one-third cup of blood into your body. And it does this 24 hours a day. Non-stop.

Considering that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the US, it seems we're not doing a great job of taking care of this important muscle.

Heart disease is what's considered an umbrella term. It includes several heart conditions, including:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart attack
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Congenital heart diseases

These conditions kill 600,000 people each year – more than all cancers combined.

"The good news is that heart disease is mostly preventable," said Dr. Carter. He recommends the following:

Choose wisely what you put into your body. Stay away from these:

  • Sugary soft drinks
  • Excessive alcohol
  • Fatty foods
Choose lots of these:
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Ground flaxseed
  • Oatmeal
  • Black or kidney beans
  • Almonds, walnuts
  • Brown rice
  • Blueberries
And, choose wisely how you treat your body. Stay away from these poor habits:
  • Smoking
  • Being sedentary
  • Drinking excessively
  • Eating foods high in fat, sugar and salt
Choose to live with these habits instead:
  • Be active every day. Walk. Run. Garden. Dance
  • Keep your stress levels low and do not underestimate the power that a healthy mind and spirit have on the body
  • Get a good night's sleep regularly

Partner With a Doctor for Good Health

The primary care doctors at Carolinas HealthCare System can help you get (and stay) on the path to wellness.

Call 844-881-2180 or complete an online request form to find a doctor near you.