Five Ways To Go Red For Women

February is the month when the American Heart Association asks us to Go Red For Women and learn the facts about heart disease. Women who are physically active–runners, walkers, cyclists, swimmers, cross-fitters, strength trainers–tend to think of ourselves as healthy, but there are five things we all should do to take better care of our hearts.

Go Red For Women

  • Know your risk. A family history of heart disease or stroke, certain medical conditions (including diabetes), high blood pressure, and/or high cholesterol levels can put you at increased risk. The American Heart Association encourages you to know your risk and notes that lifestyle changes can reduce your risk by as much as 80%.
  • Know the symptoms of heart attack and stroke in women. If you haven’t brushed up on the symptoms of heart attack and stroke since that high school health class, or the CPR class you took to be a lifeguard over summer break, you may not know that the symptoms of heart attack and stroke in women are different than for men. Shortness of breath, jaw pain, back pain, and nausea are some of the unusual heart attack symptoms the American Heart Association wants women to pay attention to. I wrote about the “new” stroke symptoms in women here.
  • Follow a healthy diet. If you are active, you may be able to eat burgers and fries, nachos, and ice cream and still fit into your favorite jeans, but just because you are burning off the calories doesn’t mean you are eating healthfully. The new USDA dietary guidelines aren’t very helpful (as I wrote here) but the American Heart Association gives us this more concrete dietary advice:

Eat an overall healthy dietary pattern that emphasizes a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry and fish, nuts and legumes, and non-tropical vegetable oils. Limit saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, red meat, sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages. If you choose to eat red meat, compare labels and select the leanest cuts available.

  • Move more. Yes, I’m talking to you, even if you ran your tenth half marathon this weekend, are training for your fifth triathlon, or won your Crossfit competition. If your activity is concentrated in one hour a day and you spend the rest of the day sitting at your desk like I do, you may not be as healthy as you think. Since I can spend 10 hours a day at work, I’ve finally switched to a standing desk to cut down on my sitting. This article in the Washington Post was one of the things that finally made me take this health risk seriously. 
  • Manage stress. Running is the main way I manage stress, but when work or family situations get stressful I usually have less time to run, not more. If physical activity is your main stress release, it’s still a good idea to manage stress in other ways–talk to a friend, spend time with people (or animals!) who make you laugh, or treat yourself to a massage. If you need more ideas, check out Mar’s 14 days of self-care program

This week’s Wednesday Word is heart. I hope this information inspires you to take better care of yours! This week’s Friday Five theme is fitness.  Follow these tips to make sure your heart is as fit as it can be.

Spread the word and wear red on Friday, February 5 for #GoRedWearRed day, then come back for the Ultimate Coffee Date Link Up on Saturday!

How do you manage stress?

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45 Responses to Five Ways To Go Red For Women

  1. Sonia says:

    I sit at my desk too for work and to keep from being too sedentary, I take regular breaks to walk around, stretch, or do something every 30 minutes. Do you like the desk? Yoga and prayer are how I manage stress.

  2. Great tips! I’m lucky to have a job that has me on my feet most of the day. But stress? Oh man, that is in the red zone these days. Working on bringing it down.
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…Open your Heart: Benefits of BackbendsMy Profile

  3. GlamistaHome says:

    Great articles, pointing out the risks and prevention. I manage stress by starting my day out with some yoga and meditation. It has seriously helped me manage my moods through the day. Same here, I sit on my butt all day, so I try to make short walks around the office or go outside, although I don’t always take the time to do it. I have to be more conscious of that. Thank you for sharing!
    GlamistaHome recently posted…3 inexpensive home decor items that work for any styleMy Profile

  4. I did not know that back pain could be a symptom of heart attack in women. Good tips!
    Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner recently posted…Why I Ditched The Scale & What I’ve LearnedMy Profile

  5. Ivanna says:

    These are all excellent tips. This is an important topic that I don’t think many women know about or even take prevention toward. Great post.

  6. WOOHOO for Go Red Day and heart health! I think managing stress is a big one these days. We all seem to take on too much. I say ditch anything that doesn’t add value to your life and spend more time just breathing, relaxing and doing the things you love.
    Nicole @ Fitful Focus recently posted…10 Tips to Stay Heart HealthyMy Profile

  7. These are great tips! Having the FitBit is so helpful now that I work in an office, versus being in the plant when I could roam the facility whenever I please! It’s so important to keep moving. And yes, self-care! I’m finally working on that too!
    Janelle @ Run With No Regrets recently posted…My Results After the 21 Day Runner’s ResetMy Profile

  8. Gotta admit running is a BIG stress buster for me!

    Yoga is good, and I like to meditate, but don’t do it nearly enough. Cooking/baking is oddly very therapeutic for me. And writing! Writing it out sometimes helps.

    Sadly, I could never run off burgers, nachos, fries & ice cream! Just very occasional treats for me.
    Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy recently posted…You’ve gotta have heartMy Profile

  9. Lauren says:

    All great tips. I think it is so important to know your risk…sometimes that is not always so clear depending on the family history! Happy Heart Month!

  10. Great tips! My biggest struggle from what you listed is moving more all throughout the day. I have an easier time with that in the summer but sometimes in the winter I have a tendency to be a bit lazier throughout the day.
    Chrissy Carroll recently posted…Apple and Sausage Stuffed Acorn SquashMy Profile

  11. Maureen says:

    This is such an important topic. My mom passed away last May due to complications from many years of heart disease. My wish is that every woman knows what the risk factors are and will do everything they can to control them.
    Maureen recently posted…Slow Cooker Beef & Vegetable SoupMy Profile

  12. Alison says:

    The “move more” tip is great advice. I think a lot of runners can be classified as “lazy athletes”. We do our run, and then spend the rest of the day on the couch or at our desk all day. Great reminder to get up and move around!

  13. Sana says:

    My diet is my biggest issue but I am working on it so I can be healthier!
    Sana recently posted…All About A SelfieMy Profile

  14. All great tips, especially the one about managing stress. Too many of us, myself included, get too wound up in things, especially the things that we have little to no control over. That stress usually leads to other unhealthy habits, like stress eating.
    Kathryn @ Dancing to Running recently posted…Rock ‘n’ Blog 2016!My Profile

  15. great reminders! I swear stress is going to get us all. You are so right we cannot rely strictly on running to reduce stress. Laughter, girlfriend time, shopping and sleep are a big help for sure! We must take time to take care of our selves 🙂
    Mary Beth Jackson recently posted…Heart to Heart Rate My Profile

  16. Elle says:

    Great post! I think I will wear red on Friday! Thanks for the reminder.
    Elle recently posted…SLS3 Dual-Pocket Running Belt ReviewMy Profile

  17. Learning more and more about the different types of energy expenditure and I have started walking more throughout the day because my new work from home job just wasn’t getting it done! Thanks for sharing!
    Becki Santiago recently posted…Hot, Hot, Hot: Thai Hot (Recipe RoundUp)My Profile

  18. Jessica says:

    Great post and love that you’re bringing attention to this!
    Jessica recently posted…Henley Rae’s Birth StoryMy Profile

  19. Tamieka says:

    Heart disease is near and dear to my heart (non pun intended!)

    My mom suffers from heart disease that lead to a massive heart attack and a triple bypass surgery 2 years ago.

    I am so self concious and aware of my heart health.

    I went to the cardiologist after a tightness in my chest and my heart is 100% perfect. He actually wanted to use my test result in a lecture to show how a well functioning heart should work 🙂

    Thanks for the sharing this information.

  20. So much good information here on such an important topic! Thanks for sharing this post!!
    Michelle @ Running with Attitude recently posted…Weekly Wrap – January RewindMy Profile

  21. Apparently we were on the same wave length this week. Great post, full of usual information!

    Thanks for linking up!
    Debbie @ Deb Runs recently posted…Having A Healthy HeartMy Profile

  22. My iFit yells at me if I sit for more than a half hour (ok, it just buzzes, but still…) I try really hard to get up when it does, even if that just means I walk around the room a couple of times.
    MCM Mama Runs recently posted…DuClaw Naked Fish Sweet Potato “Mole”My Profile

  23. Such a great and informative post!! I love your you switched to a standing desk! I think that is such brilliant plan and more companies should implement that.
    Heart disease awareness is so important for women. Thanks for sharing!!

  24. jill conyers says:

    Great tips! I sit at work a lot longer than I like but I make it a point to get up and walk every 30 mins or so.
    jill conyers recently posted…Valentine’s Day Gift Guide for HerMy Profile

  25. Great tips! I definitely need to be more proactive about moving throughout the day and not just during my workouts! Fortunately I have a toddler who helps me out with this most of the time! 🙂
    Rachel @ RachelMcMichael.com recently posted…Tired All The Time? Five Reasons You May Feel ExhaustedMy Profile

  26. HoHo Runs says:

    Great info Coco. My Dad was heart unhealthy. He always blamed his desk job and wished he would have worked outside. He was probably on to something there. I think us desk sitters get comfortable thinking our exercise is enough. I just took the CPR class and really enjoyed it. I’m hear to tell you, it’s hard work to save a dummy!
    HoHo Runs recently posted…Run With HeartMy Profile

  27. Pam says:

    Stress is probably the hardest thing for women to deal with, and I am included in that bunch. You have offered some great suggestions on avoiding the things that could cause heart problems. I love that you got a stand up desk and hopefully you love it!
    Pam recently posted…IT Band Injury and recommended exercisesMy Profile

  28. Karen says:

    I’ve been trying to out run the family history 🙂
    Truth – symptoms in women are so different. I work with a lady who thought she had the flu and it turned out she was having a heart attack.
    Karen recently posted…I Need A MinuteMy Profile

  29. It’s so scary to think that this can effect anyone even if you think you are in good shape!

  30. I manage stress by running, doing puzzles, and petting my kitty cats. 🙂
    Megan @ Meg Go Run recently posted…Friday 5My Profile

  31. Jen says:

    Great things for us to remember 🙂
    Jen recently posted…To Run or Not To Run: Running While SickMy Profile

  32. Stress tends to sneak up on me. I do really well with things I can control but it’s those situations that just pop up ya know. Little things for me is deep breaths, I also tend to put my hair up in a ponytail, I have no idea why but it helps? I have been better about eliminating stress induced things in my life, like not paying attention to drama-addicted people, letting things go that would normally bother me. Thanks Coco for all the tips, see you tomorrow for Coffee 🙂
    Tricia@MissSippipiddlin recently posted…5 Ways to Sneak in Physical Activity to Improve Your Heart HealthMy Profile

  33. great, great tips! It is so important to move and know the warning signs. Thanks for helping spread the word!
    Mar @ Mar on the Run recently posted…Friday Five: Cost Effective Fitness in DCMy Profile

  34. The move more tip definitely speaks to me. I have read that stat (about one hour a day not counteracting the sitting for 8 hours a day) and it is kind of scary! Since I got my fitbit I have been more aware of how many steps I take during the day.
    Patty @ Reach Your Peak recently posted…My First Week Of WeightWatchers + My Grocery Store PicksMy Profile

  35. Sherry says:

    Great post! I did not know jaw pain and back pain could be symptoms of a heart attack! My diet is something I still need to work on. Running helps me manage stress.
    Sherry recently posted…5 Reasons To Get Your Workout Done in the MorningMy Profile

  36. Love that you got a standing desk – which one did you get? I’ve thought about it before…
    courtney @ eat pray run dc recently posted…Shamrock Half Marathon Training Recap: Week SevenMy Profile

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