4 Ways to Honor Heart Health Month

While some think of Valentine’s Day during February, we also need to remember that it is Heart Health month, too! According to WebMD, when your heart isn’t getting the proper care it needs, serious issues occur and can lead to “heart attacks and blockage of blood flow in the arteries.”

This month, we propose you look out for your heart! Some small ways you can do so include exercise, controlling cholesterol levels, limit stress levels and eat heart healthy foods.

Get your heart moving

It is no secret that movement and exercise is great for heart health. After all, cardio is one of the best ways to put your body (and heart) into motion! If you aren’t into fast-paced exercising, that’s okay – you can still find a type of exercise that fits your preferences and helps your heart.

John Hopkins Medicine lists aerobics as a great form of exercise to promote heart health. They explain that aerobics “improves circulation, which results in lowered blood pressure and heart rate.” Some of these aerobic exercises include brisk walking, swimming and cycling/spin.

Aerobics is not the only type of exercise you are limited to when focusing on heart health! Believe it or not, strength/resistance training is also recommended by the American Heart Association.

Healthline explains that “when combined with aerobics, strength training will help to raise good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol [which] can also reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.” Strength training includes using free weights (dumbbells, barbells), weight machines, resistance bands and body-resistances (sit-ups, squats).

While exercise is definitely one of the key methods to promoting heart health, you don’t need to be locked into one kind of routine. We recommend finding a type of exercise that fits your lifestyle and preferences best!

Control those cholesterol levels!

Cholesterol – we all have it, most of us have heard about it, and some of us actually know about it. Usually, cholesterol has a bad rap. However, there are two different types of cholesterol – LDL and HDL, which are known as bad and good cholesterol, respectively.

The American Heart Association explains that LDL is typically viewed as bad because “it contributes to fatty buildups in arteries.” In contrast, they claim “experts believe that HDL [carries] LDL cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where the LDL is broken down and passed from the body.” Essentially, LDL rids the body of bad cholesterol, which is why it is often considered as good.

So, what are some ways you can keep your LDL levels under control? The short answer is to incorporate heart healthy foods and exercise into your daily routines. While this may seem oversimplified, we recommend finding exercise routines and recipes that work best for your preferences.

However, Mayo Clinic provides a few helpful guidelines when focusing on heart healthy foods. Some of the guidelines listed include:

  • Reducing saturated fats
  • Eliminating trans fats
  • Increase Omega-3 fatty acids

As always, the best place to receive recommendations about maintain your cholesterol is through your primary care physician/doctor.

Cut that stress out!

It is no secret that the inevitability of stress plays a role in your mental and physical health. Evidentially, stress can lead to factors that impact heart health or increase your risk for heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, elements such as “high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, physical inactivity and overeating” can be caused by stress and lead to a decrease in heart health.

The AHA recommends learning to manage stress in order to promote heart health. It is a good idea to take a step back if you find that you are stressed or feeling overworked. By prioritising healthy habits, you are closer to protecting your heart and all that comes with it.

Protect your heart through food

Maintaining a well-rounded diet is one of many ways to manage a health heart. While all foods fit and are good in moderation, there are specific foods that are more beneficial to heart health. As identified by CNN Health, some of these heart-friendly foods include oats, low-fat dairy, leafy greens, nuts/seeds and avocados.

An easy way to start the day with a heart healthy breakfast is by whipping up a bowl of our Steel Cut Oatmeal. CNN Health explains that oatmeal contains “a special type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan,” which reduces cholesterol levels. Steel cut oats are a great breakfast because you can top it off with anything! If you’re into savory oatmeal, you can double up and top your oats with leafy greens and avocado.

Breakfast isn’t the only meal you can incorporate heart healthy ingredients into. We love using low-fat yoghurt to make a Pancake Puff Banana Split! Top it off with some nuts or seeds, and you’ve got yourself a heart-healthy dessert.

If you are trying to introduce more heart healthy ingredients into your diet, we recommend choosing what fits best for your lifestyle! Honoring your heart can take many shapes in forms. By combining exercise routines, mental health promotion and heart healthy foods, you are sure to be on the right track to honoring your heart!

5 Ways Meditation Affects Your Body

Meditation is becoming more and more popular as stress levels get higher and higher. You try to juggle way too many things between work and your personal life that you feel like a train running at full speed. The stress of that can really take a toll on your body. One of the easiest ways to combat the effects of stress on the body is one you might not expect, meditation! Although meditation seems like an exercise just for your brain, there are 5 ways meditation affects your body.

You know that physical exercise positively affects your brain, but did you know that mediation has the same affect but on your body? In fact, meditation can be just as important for your body as exercise. Physical activity is a great way to relieve stress but it can only do so much. Stress leads to sleep problems, headaches, high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, and even weight gain to name a few. Between work and your personal life it can be exhausting. The good news is that meditation will help you fight stress and it’s never been easier to start thanks to apps and the Internet.

What is Meditation?

Meditation is estimated to be over 5,000 years old and is still practiced by Buddhist monks. These monks view meditation as a mental exercise resulting in a calm and luminous mind. They pursue meditation to gain liberation, awakening, and Nirvana. Nowadays meditation is practiced by people around the world for various reasons. It is defined as a mental exercise in which you engage in contemplation or reflection. Meditation is a skill that takes practice and time. It will be difficult to sit with your mind at first but you will discover a sense of calm and clarity over time.

Meditation is a mental exercise and is known for it’s positive affects on the brain. It improves your focus and attention and even your ability to work in stressful situations. It has been proven that long-term meditators are able to process and make decisions faster. Meditation results in heightened emotional intelligence and mental strength. It positively affects your memory and ability to learn, in addition to better self-awareness and compassion. Mindfulness practices can decrease depression, reduce anxiety, and manage Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). There are so many reasons why you should practice meditation when it comes to your brain, but in what ways does it affect your body?

5 Ways Meditation Affects the Body

Strengthens Your Immune System

Meditation reduces your stress levels which means your body doesn’t have to work as hard to protect itself from said stress. This means that your body can spend more time focusing on fighting illnesses and infections. A study from Harvard Medical School proved that those who practice meditation develop higher immunity as a result of improved mitochondrial energy production, consumption, and resiliency. Eating superfoods and meditating will be your first line of defense against cold season.

Reduces Risk of Heart Diseases

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both women and men in the world. If you are at risk for heart disease, the good news is that meditation can significantly reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, and even death over time. Just three months of practicing meditation can reduce your blood pressure. Meditation relaxes your body and lowers stress so much that it opens up your blood vessels, increasing blood flow and circulation. Pair meditation with heart healthy foods and your heart will definitely thank you.

Improves Women’s Health

Meditation is proven to be effective at treating premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Studies have shown that PMS symptoms were reduced by a whopping 58% (which means fewer cramps). Also the symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and mood swings were reduced with regular meditation. Pregnant women who practice meditation are more likely to deliver a baby full-term with lowered stress and anxiety.

Reduces Inflammation in the Body

Meditation affects your body on a genetic and cellular level. Studies have proven that meditation reduces pro-inflammatory genes – which means that your body can physically recover faster from stress. It also prevents cellular inflammation. Meditation is even more effective than nutritional education, exercise, and music therapy at preventing arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease.

May Make You Live Longer

By reducing overall day-to-day stress, meditation may slow down how our cells age. Through an increased positive state of mind and hormonal factors you may be able to live longer. This is in addition to the effect meditation has on reducing the risk of heart disease and premature death. Meditation also reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Every year more and more studies come back with positive ways meditation affects the body. With nationwide stress levels at a historical highs, we all might need some meditation in our lives. No matter what your sources of stress are, meditation will benefit you in more than one way.

How Can I Practice Meditation?

Whether you’re looking to gain a better sense of calm and clarity or benefit from the health benefits of meditation, we have good news. Practicing meditation has never been easier. There’s a wide selection of apps you can download on your phone or tablet that walk you through basic meditation. There are also guided meditation videos you can find on online. Whether you have 3 minutes or an hour, there’s a meditation exercise for that.


With just one quick search in your app store for “meditation” and you will find numerous apps with guided meditations and breathing exercises. These include apps such as The Mindfulness App, Headspace, Calm, and buddhify to name a few. Everyone’s mindfulness journey is different so it’s recommended that you download a few to see which one will work best for you. Some of these apps may require subscriptions or in-app purchases.


If you’re looking for a free option, YouTube has a crazy amount of guided meditations and music to meditate to. All you need is an internet connection and you can find hours of different kinds of meditations.

Online Guided Meditation Teacher

There are clinical psychologists that offer free samples of online guided meditations. These psychologists may offer guided meditations available to download onto your phone or computer to listen to.


Check out the numerous podcasts that have guided meditations for any topic from breathing exercising to whole body relaxation. They also deal with topics such as grief or self-improvement and even affirmations.

Meditation Centers

A quick search online can direct you to local meditation centers that offer instructors and a group atmosphere. This may also include restorative yoga classes which focus on calming poses.

These 5 ways meditation affects your body are just a few of the reasons why you should make it a part of your daily routine. Learning how to meditate will take time. Yet no matter how you choose to practice meditation, it will be a skill for life and your body will thank you.