Central to our health is our heart. This week we will be exploring the work of Dr. Kenneth Cooper MD. Dr. Cooper coined the word, aerobic, and launched America into a new form of activity called, aerobics, back in the 1960s. He began his research while he was a colonel in the Air Force. Devising a timed mile jog, he found that being able to jog a 12-minute mile correlated with heart health. Additionally, Cooper popularized the term “training effect” and found this form of exercise strengthened the heart and lungs and allowed the body to receive oxygenated blood quicker and more efficiently. His first book was published in 1968, Aerobics. Dr. Cooper continues his work, in Dallas Texas, at the age of 89 years.
Continuing our theme of self-care and building on the 9 Lessons Learned from the Blue Zones, Dr. Cooper’s work expands on our knowledge of self-care. It has been said that the kitchen is the heart of the home. It is where everyone passes through receiving nourishment and connection – it fuels the bodies, minds and souls of friends and families. The heart can be compared to this metaphor, in that everything passes through it and receives nourishment.
The ongoing practice of self-care involves taking care of our hearts from several different perspectives. Whether through Natural Movement, that we learned from the Blue Zones, or by purposeful activity planning for heart healthy activities, the need for caring for our hearts is ongoing. Further integrating the 9 Lessons Learned, into this discussion, the nourishment of the heart is vital. Recalling the discussion of Plant Slant, fruits and vegetables bring a wealth of nourishment and especially potassium to enable the heart to pump.
Additionally, the previous discussion of the lessons of Down Shifting, highlights the importance of daily relaxation practices to maintain the strength of the heart. Another metaphor that demonstrates the significance of Down Shifting is imagining returning home at night and not turning off your car. By keeping the engine revving at a high speed, very soon you will negatively damage the engine and it will need costly repair work.
In this moment, when we are all readjusting to the re- opening of our communities, is a special opportunity to first pause and examine the belief that you are worthy of self-care. Can you give yourself permission to be aware of your body, mind and spirit’s unique needs and how to meet them? Over the next few weeks, or months, take time to check in with yourself to assess and change, if necessary, how you are practicing self-care. Additionally, during this time of transition, you may want to spend time reflecting on how each of the 9 Lessons Learned impacts your heart.
The need for self-care is ongoing.
Heart health is a lifestyle.
Nourishment for the heart comes in various forms, including family, friends and creating the right tribe.
Be heart friendly.
Make natural movement part of your everyday.
Enrich spiritual practices.
Things to Limit
Sitting on the sidelines of life for too long.
Going through life without purpose.
Keeping your foot on the accelerator.
Quote of the Week
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart.”
~ Helen Keller
Perfection is not the goal. Each one of us is in a different place regarding our self- care and our re-entry into our communities. Building on our strengths, each one of us can positively impact our heart health – mentally, physically and spiritually. Do what you can do!
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The paraDocs are Dr. Francis L. Battisti, PhD, Psychotherapist, Distinguished Psychology Professor and former Executive V.P and Chief Academic Officer and Dr. Helen E. Battisti PhD, RDN, CDN, Chief Nutrition Officer, at SpNOD, Health Promotion Specialist, Research and Clinical Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and former Assistant Professor.
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