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Natural Awakenings Westchester / Putnam / Dutchess New York

Publisher's Letter for February 2020

Jan 29, 2020 11:00AM ● By Marilee Burrell

It’s February, and many of us have love on our minds. So this month, in addition to Valentine’s Day, we at Natural Awakenings turn our attention to the heart, which makes living—and loving—possible.      

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one cause of death in the United States. Our body’s vast network of veins, arteries and capillaries can become brittle and clogged over time, leading to heart attacks, strokes, vision loss and cognitive decline. The good news is that 85 percent of CVD is attributed to lifestyle, which means that there’s plenty we can do to protect ourselves. We all know the main recommendations for heart health: eat more plants, stress less and move more. But sometimes we need motivation to do those things. Learning your risk for CVD is important, because test numbers can motivate you to make the sometimes-drastic lifestyle changes needed to add healthy years, or even decades, to your life. Please read “Sacred Vessels: The Lifeblood of Heart Health,” page 24, for the latest information and what to do.

It turns out that aerobic exercise is one of the best ways to keep the body’s thousands of miles of blood vessels supple. Aerobic exercise produces nitric oxide, and nitric oxides make arteries flexible. That’s reason enough to get or keep the workouts going. Read more in “Vital Steps: The Path to Vascular Fitness,” page 40. 

My recommendation is to make healthy lifestyle changes slowly, incorporating them one at a time. And be realistic. It takes a while for a change to become a habit. I sit at a desk a lot, so when I decided to be less sedentary, my first new habit was rebounding (using a mini-trampoline) first thing in the morning. Once that became routine, I added an afternoon walk and then some yoga and hand weights at night. Now that I’ve joined a gym, my goal is to go there three times a week for more sustained aerobic workouts. That’s not a habit yet, but it will be!

Parents can instill good habits in their kids to keep them healthy as they grow. Experts say children should be physically active at least 60 minutes a day and eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables and fish (such as wild salmon, not fast food) and low in processed junk. For more parenting tips, read “Good Hearts Start Young: Boosting Kids’ Cardiovascular Health,” page 34.

It did my heart good to read Scarlett Lewis’s article, “How to Cope with Fearful Times.” After Scarlett’s young son Jesse lost his life in the Sandy Hook shooting, she founded a nonprofit, the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement, to ensure that every child has access to social and emotional education and support. Scarlett is proof that we can choose a thoughtful, life-affirming response to any situation, and she has created a movement around this truth. Simply put, our minds can think only one thought at a time, and by choosing to think love, we crowd out fear and anxiety in that moment. By modeling this behavior, Scarlett says, we teach it to our youngsters and take back our power to live lives full of love-filled moments. Don’t miss her transformative article, page 36.

To love and good health!


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