Since this is the month we celebrate love, it’s only fitting that we also take these few weeks (which include a leap day!) to pay special attention to the care of our hearts…literally. February has been recognized as American Heart Month since President Johnson’s administration, and in recent years this has proved to be for good reason: heart disease is the leading cause of death for American men and women.
I am not a doctor; I don’t even play one on TV. I can’t give you medical advice. I can only repeat the basics of what’s been said by real medical professionals: go to the doctor regularly (especially if you or your family have a history of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or other cardiovascular conditions), eat healthy (at least 80% of the time), exercise, try your best to keep stress at bay, and quit smoking if you haven’t already. The American Heart Association has a wealth of information about medical particulars and practical advice on healthy living. This also includes support for caregivers, who should never forget that their own physical, emotional, and mental health is just as important as the health of the person they care for (though I know it can be hard to recognize this).
Go Red For Women is another great organization that focuses on women’s heart health. As they explain on their homepage, “Heart disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 deaths among women each year, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds.” That’s a scary statistic. Women need to make their own health the top priority, and this includes scheduling Well-Woman Visits as a preventative measure. It’s important to also spread the word that African-American women are especially at risk for strokes, often caused by high blood pressure. To show your support and to stand in solidarity with those who have or are currently battling heart disease, you can wear red on February 5, 2016, which is National Wear Red Day.
The library is here to help support a healthy lifestyle. We have a wide variety of healthy cookbooks, including The New American Heart Association Cookbook, as well as many exercise DVDs to get you moving in the right direction (you can generally find those in the nonfiction DVD section, near the call number 613). Walking, dancing, Zumba, Tae Bo, yoga…getting active is not a one-size-fits-all resolution. Find what works for you, and have fun trying out different methods. First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative offers tips, guidelines, and further resources for families and communities to “raise a healthier generation of kids.”
We also have a selection of health and medicine databases that are available in the building or from home (with your Levittown Public Library card). These include resources to help you locate and find information regarding board certified medical specialists, alternative medicine, cooking, general nutrition, and more. Speaking of cooking, we also carry several food magazines, including the fantastic Cooking Light. Although the current issue can only be read in the building, back issues may be checked out.
Finally, the LPL is offering upcoming personal development and wellness programs. Join Sanford Hinden–a professional in psychology, interpersonal relations, and group facilitation–as he presents Healthy Self-Esteem & Self-Love (February 11th) and Meditation & Wisdom (March 9th). Having a positive mindset and an inner strength is the first step in making lifestyle changes to improve your overall health. If you’re looking to get moving and have some fun, check in at the Reference Desk to see if there are spots in our Saturday Dance Workouts.
I know this stuff isn’t fun to think about. I would prefer to stay in bed and eat cookie dough ice cream, but we are all at the mercy of our bodies. So, take a walk, have a green smoothie and meditate, and then reward yourself by watching this joyous video of panda Tian Tian playing in the snow.
Stay Happy and Healthy,