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By REBECCA PALMER
In generations past, having a healthy heart was fairly easy.
Exercise, in the form or work, was easy to come by, and so were whole grains and vegetables, especially compared to the red meat, fried foods and dairy products so prevalent in our culture today.
Everything has changed. In addition to more sedentary lifestyles and the increase of processed, quick-fix foods, our stress levels are through the roof.
Simultaneously, the technologies we have grown to love have inadvertently increased loneliness and depression for some, and they make it easier to find pleasure without requiring movement.
You’ve heard it ad nauseum from almost every public and private health advocacy group, but it’s true: We need to exercise more, eat better and monitor factors such as blood pressure and cholesterol for the best chances of long, enjoyable lives.
In this second edition of Davis Wellness, we take a hard look at cardiovascular health and the many programs that encourage it as part of National Heart Month. We were pleased to learn that compared to other states, Utah is doing well for almost all the heart health factors monitored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human services.
However, more Utah residents are obese are overweight than ever, we found.
We learned that it’s easier than ever to monitor your own health and make plans to improve. We also learned that blueberries and strawberries — some of my favorite natural treats — can reduce the risk of heart failure among women significantly.
This edition also features a column from health and physiology expert Gary Seljaas, who discusses the romantic benefits of having a healthy lifestyle, and columns from a hearing specialist and more.
Following Seljaas’s lead, we learned that loneliness and depression are more than just psychological problems. Multiple recent studies show that persistent sadness can come with dire health consequences, especially for seniors.
In Davis County, however, seniors have much to be thankful for. For example, read in this edition about the Silver Sneakers program.
We also have an interesting piece about diets for seniors. Our reporter Melinda Williams got the idea from her own family experiences. Following her curiosity, she talked to local experts and got the scoop.
We no longer have to work in the fields with our families and loved ones or live on just a handful of food options, as our ancestors did, but we can still find ways to improve our health while improving our relationships.
This month, try a couple’s walk in Bountiful’s beautiful foothills on a date night. Alternatively, try learning a new cardio routine or something more relaxing and meditative such as tai chi or yoga.
A healthier body often leads to a happier life, just as unhappiness and depressions can lead to poor health. Our health and our hearts are all but synonymous, metaphorically and otherwise.
Be happy, be healthy, and get moving this month. You won’t regret it.
Contact me with health story ideas or column suggestions and other feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org or 801-295-2251 ext. 126.