Heart Health Awareness

Heart Health Awareness
By: Scarlett Elisabeth Shelby

Cardiovascular disease, arrhythmia, congestive heart failure, etc…. these are all heart diseases that we hear about on a regular basis, but what do they have to do with me? I am a 20 year old college student, and these diseases are the last thing on my mind. When I think about the heart I am thinking about relationships, not how healthy it is. I am too young to get any life threatening disease like that. Wrong. Heart healthy behavior begins now. The decisions that you as a college student will make, will impact your overall heart health in the future.

Personally my family has had a history of heart disease. My grandfather has had two heart attacks, as well as having 7 out of 8 bypasses done. This was a scary experience for my family. Additionally, as an infant I had several health issues, including a heart murmur due to premature birth. I wore a heart monitor for the first year of my life, and I am still conscious of that issue today.
Heart disease is very prevalent in many people’s lives today. Almost everyone can name a person they know who has had a Heart Attack. As part of the American way, we have encouraged unhealthy behavior that increases the risk of heart disease. This not only affects you, but future generations as well.

How can we prevent, or reduce the risk of serious heart diseases in our future? One acronym that I like to use as guiding point to keep myself healthy is SPIED. This stands for Sleep, Physicals, Involvement, Exercise, and Diet. These characteristics will be discussed further in the following paragraphs. I believe that by following this acronym, you can start to become heart healthy, even as a college student.

The first letter in my acronym is S, signifying Sleep. A regular sleep schedule is crucial to your heart health. As a college student who balances many activities, I know it can be very hard to establish a routine for sleeping. From writing late night papers, to getting up early to study for a test sleep is the last thing a student is worried about, but tiny power naps will not do the trick in keeping you healthy. By having a regular sleep schedule, this allows your bodies to rest, reenergize, and reduce stress. Stress is one of the leading factors that contribute to heart disease.

The next letter is P, which stands for Physical. It is very essential that you have regular doctor’s appointments, to ensure that if a health issue does arise, you can address it quickly so that it is less detrimental. Personally, I have a full checkup at least once a year to make sure that I am in the best condition to keep up with the activities that I do. Being a very active individual, I want to be aware of my health concerns at all times.

The third letter in the acronym is I for Involvement. Involvement is crucial to helping you stay heart healthy and active. When you are involved in several activities you are more likely to manage your time, and be more productive. Also when you are involved with different activities, you have social support which leads into the next letter of the SPIED acronym.

The letter I is followed by the letter E representing exercise. This is the most common element that people lack concerning heart health. Most people claim they don’t have time to go to a gym, but there are many things that can be done in their spare time to exercise. For most college students it can be difficult to fit in a routine exercising schedule, unless you play a sport. But there are several activities including intramurals or joining exercise groups that can be done.

Personally I am involved in cheerleading at the collegiate level which requires very rigorous activity including tumbling, flipping, jumping, and lifting other girls. But one thing that I do aside from cheerleading practice is a morning workout group two days a week. My friends and I get up twice a week at 7 a.m. and exercise for one hour before classes. I always find that on the days that I participate in this I am energized and feel great that day.

Additionally I know that my school offers classes each week at several times that are fun workouts such as Zumba, and other dance workouts. By joining these classes students also have social support to keep them exercising.

The last letter in my heart healthy tips acronym is D. D stands for the dreaded word of diet. As a college student, a diet is almost impossible, especially with awkward eating times, skipping meals, and so many options as far as fast food. Without a specific schedule it is easy to over eat.

Personally, in order to stay on a steady and routine diet, I keep water bottles in my room, so that I am not tempted to drink carbonated drinks such as pepsi or coke. Also, I try to keep the snacks in my room to a minimum, only having a few things so that I don’t over eat. As far as the school cafeteria, at each meal I try to get one meat and only two side items to go with it. If I eat a desert I have it only at lunch time.

Some other ways to regulate your diet is to save up each week the money that you would use at a fast food restaurant throughout the week and go out with friends to a nicer restaurant on the weekend. Also, once a week my roommates and I make a meal together. This is a fun way for us to spend time together, and is a healthier alternative to the food choices that college students have.
Now you have a few tools that are very simple to follow as far as being conscience of your heart health. Remember to stay aware of health even at a young age!

References

“List of Common Heart Conditions.” LIVESTRONG.COM. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Dec. 2012.

“Stress and Heart Attack Risk.” WebMD.WebMD, n.d. Web. 30 Dec. 2012.

“10 Heart Healthy Exercise Tips.” 10 Heart Healthy Exercise Tips.N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Dec. 2012..