Nothing in this article is meant to be medical advice. Please consult you own healthcare provider for any questions or issues concerning you own health status. 

Women’s Healthy Heart Month is not until next February; but really, why wait?

If you read no further, please at least click on this link promoting Living Guidelines for Women. In my opinion, it gives women of all ages every piece of info they need to stay heart healthy in a quick, easy-to-use format. And gentlemen, not all the info included there is exclusive to the gals. So, please check it out also:

Here is the best news: Recent medical research shows us that it is truly never too late and that even small, incremental changes do make a healthy difference at all ages.

Wow! That is great news. But what is the key?

It’s simple. Staying active. I think life on the Hill can make staying active both easy and a bit more difficult. So, we may need to be strategic here.

Let’s break it down. Walking, even short brisk walks for as little as 10 minutes throughout the day, can provide enough physical activity to keep your heart in shape. The goal you are working toward is to get 30 to 40 minutes of exercise three to four times per week.

Remember, you don’t have to hit that 30 to 40 minutes all at once. It’s a goal you work toward gradually, especially if you have not been very active for a while.

Here is one tip to gradually increase your strength and stamina: Start modest and do just a bit more each day. Even if you start with five minutes of concerted activity per day, you are already making advances in your health status.

Think of that! If you’re going from sedentary to active, medical research shows us that adding a mere five to 10 minutes of activity daily does indeed improve cardiovascular fitness.

Think of it like the 12-step adage … “one day at a time.” In our case of increasing activity, maybe we can think of it as five minutes at a time; then six  minutes at a time; then seven  and eight, and so on.

Note: Activity does not necessarily mean exercise, per se. I think of exercise as something you don special clothes to do, such as walking shoes, yoga tights, basketball sneakers. Activity can be as simple as staying on your feet longer than usual and moving about your house and yard.

On the other hand, when improving your long-term cardiovascular “fitness,” it is recommended by medical experts to achieve and sustain a mild increase in heart rate for the duration of your exercise and/or activity.

Believe it or not, you can increase heart rate by simply lifting your arms above your heart and back down, repeatedly. Again, start slow if you’re new to this.

But, please do check with your healthcare provider before doing any activity that increases heart rate,  especially in our rarefied mountain air.

Callie Wight is a California state-licensed registered nurse with a Master of Arts in Psychology. She has worked professionally both in bedside nursing and as a psychotherapist. Her nursing practice has spanned the specialty areas of maternal and child care, acute care and care of patients with long-term chronic illness, especially cardiac and pulmonary diseases.

As a psychotherapist, she has worked primarily in the area of post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition to a private practice in Los Angeles, she worked for the last 25 years for the Veterans Administration. 

She is president of the Idyllwild HELP Center board and is serving on the Idyllwild Community Fund board. She enjoys managing a few of the bookstore shelves for the Friends of the Idyllwild Library.