Get Your Groove on for a Healthy Heart
By Allison Hoit
Don’t let Cupid strike just yet. There is more to this month than chocolate, love notes, flowers, and romance. Did you know that February is also American Heart Month? Heart disease is the leading cause of death and disability for both men and women,¹ ². In addition, people with disabilities are more likely to report poorer overall health, less access to adequate health care, and greater rates of smoking and physical inactivity than people without disabilities, thus increasing their risk for chronic diseases and other health problems².
The good news is that many related health conditions and chronic diseases including heart disease are preventable and controllable. Prevention works! Set yourself up for heart health success by making healthy lifestyle choices, scheduling regular visits to a health care provider for preventive care and screenings, and learning self-management strategies. Visit the CDC Feature on American Heart Month for a full prevention plan.
Physical activity is a pivotal component of an effective prevention plan for heart disease. The benefits are limitless and include improving physical fitness, lowering blood pressure and blood cholesterol, reducing stress, improving circulation, and increasing energy levels, just to name a few. Incorporate heart healthy cardiovascular activity along with muscle strengthening exercises to reap these benefits of being physically active.
With many things in life it is important to continually switch up our routines to prevent burnout or boredom. Maybe you always take evening showers, eat the same oatmeal for breakfast, or wear the same black pants or jeans until they fall apart. Imagine how you would feel switching up your routine by taking a morning shower, trying an omelet for breakfast, and adding some variety to your wardrobe. You certainly wouldn’t be as likely to become bored. This philosophy can also apply to your physical activity routine and especially how you perform cardiovascular activity. If you are always getting your 150 minutes a week by walking, wheeling, or running, you may just be going through the motions. Switching up your sweat sessions will not only help you mentally but also keep your muscles guessing and preparing your body for better health results. So get off the bike or elliptical and try something new such as the popular dance-fitness sensation, Zumba® Fitness!
Founded in 2001, Zumba® Fitness is a global lifestyle brand that fuses fitness, entertainment and culture into exhilarating dance-fitness exercise routines! Zumba® exercise classes are “fitness-parties" that blend upbeat world rhythms with easy-to-follow choreography, for a total-body workout that feels like a celebration³. The Zumba® program combines aerobic and dance elements, making it a great option for heart healthy cardiovascular activity. There is a saying in the Zumba® Fitness world, “Zumba® is for everyone.” This is especially true through the leadership and instruction of JoAnne Fluke, a Zumba® Instructor and wheelchair user paving the way for people with disabilities to enjoy and benefit from Zumba® Fitness.
As a little girl JoAnne loved to dance! Early on she faced barriers from people thinking since she didn’t have “normal” legs there was no way she could dance, but she quickly showed them they were wrong by dancing successfully on her hands. In 2007, JoAnne started a non-profit organization called Groovability. Groovability is an organization that brings movement to people who use wheelchairs, initially through wheelchair ballroom dancing. This movement became such a part of JoAnne’s life that TLC did a documentary on her called The Dancer with Tiny Legs. JoAnne continued working with her Zumba® Mentor, Tony Witt, and her passion was ignited to help people who use wheelchairs become physically fit. JoAnne has been extremely successful in her Zumba® career and working towards her dream of giving everyone who uses a wheelchair the opportunity to “Join the Party” in a Zumba® Fitness class.
NCHPAD had the pleasure of hosting a Zumba® Fitness Master Class lead by JoAnne that was inclusive of people with disabilities. You can view pictures from the event on our Facebook page and a video on YouTube. Zumba® Fitness can be done in a group class setting or from home with the use of their DVDs and more products. Go to http://www.zumba.com/en-US/ to learn more and locate a class near you! Whether you are coordinated or clumsy, fluid or stiff, I encourage you to switch up your physical activity routine and make sure you are getting in lots of heart healthy cardio during this American Heart Month.
Check out some of the great heart pumping cardiovascular movements that you will experience with Zumba® Fitness!