February- The month of Love? Valentine’s Day.

During my research for this piece, I discovered that throughout February in the USA, they have “Heart” month. February may be the Month of Love, but it’s also the month to “beat heart disease”.
Did you know, that heart disease is the NUMBER ONE KILLER? Most women may think its breast cancer, but heart disease kills more women than all the other cancers combined, along with diabetes and HIV!!!

However, on a happier note, up to one third of deaths due to heart disease, are preventable, through diet and exercise!!!!!!

A recent study, from the Department of Health, shows that regular exercise, for example running and walking, can substantially reduce your risk.
You can do as little as 30 minutes per day, 3 times a week, to achieve significant health and other vital benefits. (This is before you consider joining a gym?)

Here are some tips to help you get “Heart Fit”.

• Make fitness your priority; after all you owe it to yourself, your families and friends. Make it the best investment of your life and feel the benefits.
• Fitness regimes should be enjoyable, so make it fun. It doesn’t always need to be laborious gym work.
• Aim to train for 30 mins. per day, 3 times per week to start with. You probably could do more, but let your body get used to the current exercise and then you could increase the frequency and length of the sessions when you feel able.
• Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and lean meat. Small changes are better and more achievable and sustainable.
• Go walking with friends and/or family – walk normally and then pick up the pace for 1 or 2 minute intervals ( you can also do this with running)
• Ride a bike, with friends, family and maybe your children, but make the exercise fun.
• Owning a dog, gives you a great excuse to go walking, but alternate the pace, as previously mentioned. (Your dog won’t mind)
• Get help with a Personal Trainer, preferably ProBalance, or join your local gym.
• Now I can’t believe I’m saying this, but you could consider getting yourself a “Wii Fit programme for your “Nintendo Wii”, or possibly purchase one of the other games consoles that are on the market with some fitness software. “ Obviously the Personal Trainer option would be our recommendation?

• If you have children, this should be your way of really helping them to have a heart, fit for life. Every evening, take them out walking, to encourage them to develop their own healthy lifestyle and give them a wonderful pattern to follow, for their own futures.
• Arrange for a check up with your doctor. You only have one heart, and it’s a pretty vital organ.
• Always have a goal that will help to keep you on track, giving you motivation to train frequently. Make different goals each day, to make you feel proud of yourself and give you a sense of achievement. Maybe target an organised run for example, perhaps the Manchester 10K in May , or the Manchester to Blackpool bike ride in the Summer of 2016? Consider raising money for a charity perhaps whilst you keep fit?

Here are some Valentines Day fitness gifts for your loved ones, that you could consider?

1. Give your kids a great Valentine Present by taking a walk every evening to start an early lifetime pattern of good heart health. This can be up to 30 minutes per day.
2. Chocolate – Yes, I did say chocolate!! This is one of the main Valentines gifts people give and I suppose we’ve all given a chocolate heart or something similar to the ones we love on Feb 14th? Chocolate has been reported as having remarkable health benefits. Chocolate is made from plants, which means it contains many of the health benefits of dark vegetables. These benefits are from flavonoids, which act as antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body from the aging process caused by free radicals, which cause damage that leads to heart disease. Dark chocolate contains a large number of antioxidants (nearly 8 times the number found in strawberries). Flavonoids also help relax blood pressure, through the production of nitric oxide and balance certain hormones in the body. Moderation is always the key – having a decadent piece of chocolate once in a while, is not going to harm your health. The best chocolate to choose is dark chocolate. This has higher flavonoid content. (Green & Blacks dark has 70% or 85% Cocoa. ( it’s also very delicious and my favourite as it happens)
3. Magazines or books- why not give your partner a12month magazine subscription? Hopefully, you already know what they like to read, but there are also some great fitness related magazines out there; for example-, “Ultra-fit”, “Men’s health” etc. Now, books, were do I start? Again, find what your partner is keen on. A fan of, football, aerobics, going to the gym, Pilates etc? Do your research and I’m sure you will find the right book, but try to encourage fitness when making your choice.
4. Weight Loss programs- you could get a slap in the face of course, if your partner has never said anything about needing to loose weight and you make a suggestion about Weight Loss Programs? Therefore, why not suggest that you both get yourselves on a program? You could join a gym together or maybe employ a personal trainer from ProBalance, who can set planned, realistic and achievable goals? Couples can lose weight and get fit together, even if only one person in the partnership enters a weight-loss program, because one person can influence the other, in terms of behavioural changes, like regular weigh-ins, awareness of calories and healthier food choices etc.
5. Fruit baskets – this is a delicious, healthy option. Just picture this; a basket full of beautiful, juicy, crisp, fresh, seasonal fruits. Mouth watering melons, juicy pineapples, crisp apples, sweet pears; you could have a vividly colourful assortment of greens, reds, yellows. Has that got your taste buds going? A fruit basket will please every palate and satisfies sweet-tooth cravings. Let your Valentine know you truly care by giving them a beautiful, delicious, healthy basket of fruit …the unique Valentine gift.
6. Healthy, organic skin products- I’m no expert, but there are some great products out there. Believe me, I’ve had a look. Organic face packs, lip balms, massage bars- massage oils; you could even have a health spar day together. All these are great gifts.
7. Fitness clothes – there are some stylish and functional things out there at the moment, from your designer gym wear, to excellent cycling clothing. There are great websites and shops selling practical, but beautiful clothes, offering wind proof and soft shell garment etc.)
8. Healthy Valentine Meal- This could be a great way to celebrate the day at home? Why not cook the healthiest and most delicious meal for your partner? Avoid deep-fried food, sweets and too much alcohol however. (sorry about the alcohol)
The food and drink that you could have might be
• Drinks – Champagne ( very clean and healthy), Red wine ( a moderate red wine consumption may help protect against certain cancers and heart disease and have a positive effect on cholesterol levels and blood pressure)
• Foods – a good selection of meats are available. Perhaps, an 8oz rump steak maybe? My choice however, would be Ostrich, which is delicious, slightly unusual, but is very lean and full of great protein. Include this with a great, fresh selection of vegetables, and for dessert, maybe fresh fruit?

Anyway food for thought as they say. I hope I have given you some ideas for February and Valentines Day and say, “Let’s get Heart Fit in February”?
Why don’t you come and see us at Pro-Balance and we will design an achievable, healthy regime for you, that will benefit you for the rest of your life?

Andrew Jeffries,
ProBalance Health,
Lloyds House,
5, Jackson’s Row,
M2 5WD
0161-833-4777 email: andy@probalancehealth.co.uk

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