In these days of serious economic woes, high unemployment, rising food and oil prices, revolutions in other countries, the news these days is not so great! If you’re like many of my patients, watching the nightly news can really get you down!
It’s long been known that depression and anxiety is not good for your health, especially your heart. As I recommend to my patients, the best antidote for things you can’t change in the world is to forget about them, get out and go have some old-fashioned, inexpensive fun and boost your heart health at the same time!
Fun Helps Your Heart
You’ve heard the saying “Laughter is the best medicine”? It’s true. If you’re laughing, you’re having fun, and also giving yourself the following health benefits:
➢ Boosts your immune system and prevents heart disease
➢ Produces “feel good” endorphin hormones in your brain which brightens mood
➢ Lowers your blood pressure and risk of heart attack or stroke
➢ Relaxes muscles and releases tension
➢ Dispels anxiety and fear
➢ Reduces stress and helps you relax
Make Time For Fun and Laughter
Let’s face it, money is tight these days, and like many of my patients, you likely don’t have a lot of disposable income to spend on vacations or entertainment activities. Let me share with you the same list of fun things that I recommend to my patients that are free to very inexpensive:
➢ Make a “play date”: Schedule time with your spouse, kids, or significant other. Together, go for a bike ride, take a nature hike in the woods, shovel the snow and build a snow fort (don’t forget the hot chocolate), walk on the beach, picnic in the park, go bowling, put up a tent in the backyard and camp out under the stars. Strengthens relationships and your heart.
➢ Sign out some free movies: Your local library loans movies for free. Grab a few comedies, make some popcorn, invite friends, or your family, and have a fun movie fest!
➢ Visit your local comedy or karaoke club: If you can afford a night out here and there.
➢ Create A Fun Night: Invite some friends or family to play cards, charades, board games, or just talk! Share something that made you laugh, smile, or feel happy in some way in the last week.
➢ Make another kind of date: With your spouse or significant other. Sex is not only a “feel good” fun activity that boosts your mood; it’s also exercise that helps strengthen your heart and your relationship.
Exercise for Fun and Health
You don’t need to belong to an expensive gym to participate in exercise. There are many free or inexpensive exercise activities that are heart healthy and fun!
➢ Go for a walk or a run – Just lace up your shoes and go! It can be either good “me” time, or good “us” time if you take a friend, spouse, child, grandchild with you!
➢ Find a drop in class: Zumba, yoga, basketball, volleyball, soccer. Usually, there are inexpensive pay per games/visit drop in sessions you can find at your local Y, or around town. Great exercise and you can have fun with other people. You may like it so much you’ll sign up for an ongoing class!
➢ Swim at your local high school: Most high schools that have swimming pools open their pools to the public at night when there are no swimming meets or other student activities scheduled. Most are very inexpensive admission for the use of the pool.
➢ Jump rope: Boxers and other athletes regularly use a jump rope to strengthen their aerobic lung capacity, strengthen their heart and their legs. The jumping has a rebounding-like effect that also helps drain lymphatic tissues. Its great exercise and way cheap! Just find a length of cord, turn on some beat pumping music and go for it!
➢ Use Your Stairs: One of the best forms of exercise you can do for your heart is to run up and down your stairs a few times every day. Make it fun by having a competition with yourself, try to out do the previous day’s number of stair runs.
➢ Disability Aerobics: For people with movement disabilities, there are videos available to teach you how to exercise seated in a chair, or lying on a bed, even water aerobics at your local Y that you can engage in that will really boost your mood and your health.
➢ Check Out Free On Demand Exercise: If you have cable television, your On Demand station carries a lot of free exercise videos that you can access with a click of your remote! From yoga, to zumba, to hip hop, to jazz dance aerobics, try a few!
In these days, more than ever people need to put a little lighthearted fun in their life to decompress. Stress kills is not just a saying, it’s a medical reality. Stress negatively affects your blood pressure, your blood sugar, your immune system, and ups your risk factors for heart disease and illness. As I tell my patients, realize the things you can change in your life and devise a plan to change them for the better. Then, make peace with all the other things in life that you have no control over. Then get together with your friends, your family, and go make some fun in your lives. You’ll love it and your heart will love you back!
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