Student exercising

Heart Health Month emphasizes the importance of keeping a healthy lifestyle

February is a month for focusing on all things heart related. While many people focus on symbolic hearts with Valentine's Day, it's also important to dedicate some time to the organ itself for Heart Health Month.

Heart disease is the number-one leading cause of death in the United States, which is one reason why heart health should be taken seriously. According to Fitness Center Manager Maddison Beck, the main component of maintaining your cardiovascular health is through regular exercise.  

“Nutrition is an important part of keeping your body healthy, but for me physical activity is at the forefront,” Beck said. “We know the less physical activity you do, the greater the chance of developing heart disease. It’s very important to take care of your heart for longevity. Everyone wants to be healthy so they can live longer and being active really helps with that.”

Beck explained that the American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, a figure which can be broken up into any number of sessions (Beck recommends 30 minutes, five days a week).

While moderate-intensity exercise is recommended, any level of physical activity is beneficial, and Beck encourages people to start at any level without feeling pressured to do more than they are able.

“A lot of people get kind of overwhelmed when they think about exercise and working out to the point where they think they have to do so much that they just end up doing nothing, but even just walking for five minutes is great,” Beck said. “Just start where you’re at and build up from there.”

You also don’t have to go out of your way to keep your heart healthy and get the recommended amount of daily exercise. Sometimes it feels difficult to incorporate an entire workout into your already busy schedule, but there are many easy and efficient ways that you can incorporate physical activity into your existing routine.

“A good way you can get that in, especially if you’re working on consistency or are just getting started working out, is just by walking,” Beck said. “Taking a break, standing up from your desk, walking a little bit more than you would. Maybe if you’re taking a phone call you can do it on your cell phone and walk while you listen. If you plan 30 minutes of screen time every day, maybe you could walk on the treadmill and do that screen time instead of sitting on the couch.”

Beck says that awareness is key to seamlessly integrating movement into your day-to-day life, but luckily Lees-McRae has lots of resources to help you along the way. Not only does the gym facility offer a wide range of machines and rentable equipment, but the Fitness Center hosts exercise classes every week.

“Monday and Wednesday at 1 p.m. we offer a HIIT class. That’s high intensity, but it’s a very good class for everyone from beginners to advanced,” Beck said. “On Tuesday and Thursday, we have a group lift at 7 a.m. You come in, the exercises have already been created, and we just lift the weights together. At 8:15 there’s yoga, which is beneficial for everyone at all ages and all skill levels.”

The group fitness classes are suitable for all levels of experience and are an excellent and fun way to maintain a healthy heart and body. Beck also explains that working out in a group setting has a positive impact on your mental and social health, contributing to your overall well-being.

“Working out is really great for your health, but it’s good for wellness as well,” Beck said. “I believe that if you have an active lifestyle, it translates well into all other parts of your life. You will be getting better sleep and have less stress, less anxiety, and better relationships.”

Learn more about Heart Health Month and get resources for maintaining cardiovascular health >>

By Maya JarrellFebruary 11, 2022
Campus Life