woman holding heart

It is common knowledge — or at least I hope that it is — that exercise is good for a healthy heart. There has been recent research among the older female population implying that exercise may guard against a rapid heartbeat. The more technical term for this condition is atrial fibrillation. It’s a condition that can affect anyone, but women who are obese seem to be at higher risk.

What is Atrial Fibrillation?

AF is a type of arrhythmia or, in simple terms, a heartbeat that is out of sync with what experts consider to be a normal rhythm. AF occurs when the heart’s electrical signals are disorganized or erratic, causing it to beat too fast. There are other types of arrhythmia that cause the heart to beat too slowly or with an irregular cadence. AF is often symptom-less, but can lead to stroke or heart attack.

There was a common thought among the medical community that vigorous exercise could actually contribute to AF, but recent studies have shown the opposite to be true. This is not to say that if you are over 50 and overweight, you should start running marathons. But consistent brisk walking can be enough to reduce your risk. Strenuous exercise lowered the risk even further. It is important to check with your doctor to see which level of exercise you should be doing based on other risk factors you may have, like osteoporosis or arthritis.

This all seems like a no-brainer, yet more women than men die from heart disease and stroke. Women also tend to be less active than men. So what gives? Why don’t we take care of ourselves and value our health like we should?

As a woman in the health and wellness field, it saddens me to think that moving 20-30 minutes a day can save lives, yet a large number of women just can’t seem to bring themselves to do it.

We all get busy and put things off. Women tend to be caretakers and do things for others before themselves. The first thing that falls off the to-do list is self-care. I’m guilty of this myself. I’m not saying it is easy, but nothing great ever is. Carving out this time for you isn’t selfish; in fact, it can be a lifesaver.

What are some ways you can get moving today to protect your heart? How can today be the day you change your patterns and make health a habit?

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