February is American Heart Month and as a leading community-based organization committed to improving the nation’s health, the Ashland Area YMCA urges everyone in Ashland and Boyd County to help prevent heart disease by lowering your blood pressure.
According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the nation’s No. 1 killer, responsible for 1 in 3 deaths each year in the U.S. Additionally, 32.6 percent —about 80 million adults—have high blood pressure with less than half having it under control. High blood pressure is most prevalent in minority communities, and is often referred to as “The Silent Killer” because there are typically no warning signs or symptoms.
To address the prevalence of heart disease, the Y has made a national commitment to the Million Hearts campaign, an initiative spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that aims to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes.
One way to keep your blood pressure in check is exercise. Exercise not only helps control hypertension, it also helps manage weight, build a stronger heart, and lower your stress level. All of these contribute to a healthier heart. Even moderately intense activity, such as brisk walking, is beneficial if done on a regular basis. Whatever you choose, pick an activity that is interesting to you and that you will stick with. According to the American Heart Association:
• Most healthy people should get at least 150 minutes (two hours and 30 minutes) per week of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking. You can incorporate your weekly physical activity with 30 minutes a day on at least five days a week.
• If you need to lower your blood pressure or cholesterol, aim for 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity three to four times per week.
• Physical activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably, it should be spread throughout the week.
• Include flexibility and stretching exercises.
• Include muscle-strengthening activity at least two days each week.
Besides exercise to control blood pressure, reducing sodium intake is a great way to keep your heart healthy. Too much sodium in your system puts an extra burden on your heart and blood vessels. In some people, this may lead to or raise high blood pressure. Everyone, including kids, should reduce their sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day (about 1 teaspoon of salt). Having less sodium in your diet may help you lower or avoid high blood pressure.
There are many factors in keeping your heart healthy. Having a handle on your blood pressure and sodium intake are effective tools in the preventing heart disease. Whether you have high blood pressure, are at risk for heart disease or want to keep your heart healthy the Y has resources that can help achieve better health.
In addition to the fitness programs available at the Ashland Y, here are some tips from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to reduce sodium in your diet.
1. Think fresh: Most of the sodium Americans eat is found in processed foods. Eat highly processed foods less often and in smaller portions—especially cheesy foods, such as pizza; cured meats, such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs, and deli/luncheon meats; and ready-
to-eat foods, like canned chili, ravioli and soups. Fresh foods are generally lower in sodium.
2. Enjoy home-prepared foods: Cook more often at home—where you are in control of what’s in your food. Preparing your own foods allows you to limit the amount of salt in them.
3. Fill up on veggies and fruits—they are naturally low in sodium: Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits—fresh or frozen. Eat a vegetable or fruit at every meal.
4. Adjust your taste buds: Cut back on salt little by little—and pay attention to the natural tastes of various foods. Your taste for salt will lessen over time. Additionally, keep salt off the kitchen counter and the dinner table and substitute spices, herbs, garlic, vinegar or lemon juice to season foods.
5. Boost your potassium intake: Choose foods with potassium, which may help to lower your blood pressure. Potassium is found in vegetables and fruits, such as potatoes, beet greens, tomato juice and sauce, sweet potatoes, beans (white, lima, kidney), and bananas. Other sources of potassium include yogurt, clams, halibut, orange juice and milk.
Let’s get started! The Ashland Area YMCA offers a wide variety of group fitness classes to suit everybody, regardless of age, fitness level, or health status. And we all know working out in a group, or with a friend, is more motivating – and it keeps you accountable! Learn more by visiting ashlandareaymca.org or stopping by the Y on Old 13th Street in Ashland.
Something for Everyone at the Ashland Area YMCA
ABS: A class that focuses on developing the core section.
L.I.F.E. TONING: L.-Low, I. -Impact, F.-Fitness, E.-Exercises Toning is a low impact total body workout. Feel your muscles work while you shape your body with weight training.
BOOT CAMP/CROSS TRAINING: This class is designed for a total body workout. The interval style training cardio and weight training will bring the maximum results. This is a one hour power class.
SPIN: You are sure to get your heart pumping in this high intensity cardio workout. The class is great for building cardio endurance and sculpting the legs.
#REMIXED: A dance workout that combines chest pops, crisscrosses, shoulder blows and kick steps to exercise the entire body.
ZUMBA®: A Latin-inspired, dance-fitness class that incorporates Latin and international music and dance moves to create a dynamic and effective fitness system. Ditch the workout, join the party!
TONING: Feel your muscles burn while you shape your body with weight training. If you want to learn how to use weights and reduce inches you need to take this class.
FIT Barre: An exceptional regime of ballet, Pilates, strength and flexibility training using a chair. The classes are choreographed to the hottest music in a fun, supportive and high-energy environment.
YOGA: This class will teach you proper stretching and relaxation techniques to clear your mind and relax your muscles. It combines the stretching aspects of yoga with a powerful flow.
PILATES: Enjoy improving your strength, flexibility, balance and coordination in a peaceful atmosphere. You will leave the class with a sense of calm energy (and perhaps a flatter tummy).
BASIC STEP & TONE: This class is a mixture of cardio and strength training moves. Expect Hi/Low floor aerobics for cardio, combined with use of weights and body bars for strength training.
PiYo®: A fusion workout based on the principle of Yoga and Pilates. It is a high energy workout that will improve your flexibility, strength and balance as well as burn calories.
TOTAL BODY CHALLENGE: Work your muscles in every way possible in this class designed to build strength, add definition, increase your bone density, and decrease your body fat. You will use hand weights, body bars, tubing, bands and jump ropes to change the shape of your body. No muscle gets neglected.
CORE AND FAT BLASTER: Blast your cardio fitness to the next level! This class provides the variety your body needs to see results by combining cardio with specific muscle conditioning that will be tailored to the class’s needs from week to week.
SILVER CARDIO: This is an aerobics class that’s safe, heart-healthy and gentle on the joints.
CORE N MORE: This is a Pilates and tone class that will incorporate moves for lengthening and strengthening of those mid body muscles. Stretching movements will also be incorporated to tone up this group of muscles that are important for everyday life.
Visit our website at ashlandareaymca.org to view a full scheudle of our group fitness classes.
Did you know the YMCA has been teaching people to swim for more than a century? Over the years the Y has developed a number of aquatics programs that are great for children and adults alike.
In our youth aquatic programs, children begin to learn the basics of water safety and water fun. Our SKIPS swim classes are for youth 6 to 36 month of age. We offer fun and a unique way for parent and child to begin enjoying the water. Our PERS and advanced PERS swim classes are for youth between 3 and 5 years of age. These classes begin to teach you basic swim skills, water safety, stroke mechanics and endurance.
Our youth progressive swim classes are for ages 6-12 and are some the YMCA’s most widely offered programs nationwide. The Progressive swim classes continue to teach children proper swimming skills and the basics of water safety. With our youth aquatics programs, our goal is to help kids develop lifelong skills that help them stay healthy and safe around water for the rest of their lives.
The YMCA also has a number of programs for Adults of all ages. If you are into exercise, the Y offers classes like Aqua Fit, Aqua Zumba & Aqua Toning.
We even have classes that teach the basics of Scuba Diving and offer Red Cross Lifeguard Courses seasonally. (Courses begin mid to late January thru late spring)
If you are looking to swim competitively, The AAY Swim Team is a YMCA and KY-USA year round competitive swim team. To learn more: www.aayswimming.org