Pop quiz time. Do you know what America's #1 killer is?
If you guessed Heart Disease then you would be correct. The number one killer in America is our own hearts! One in every four deaths in the United States is cause by heart disease. About half of the population (47%) in the United States has at least one of the main risk factors, High Cholesterol, High Blood Pressure, and Smoking for heart disease. And to top it off, its easily preventable with diet, exercise, and staying away from stressors, ie. smoking, drinking, and lack of sleep.
So now that you know, it is time to take steps to a healthier heart. A good diet and regular exercise is a must when it comes to helping prevent heart disease. Drinking lots of water and being aware of your blood pressure is important as well. Managing stress in also necessary to keep hyper tension down.
And of course one of my favorite ways to keep my heart healthy is massage! Regular massage can contribute to keeping your heart happy on both the physical and emotional levels.
Massage has many short term and long term benefits for your health, and one of the major systems that massage impacts is the circulatory system. In the short term, during and right after a massage, there is an increase in blood circulation with a direct effect on venous flow back towards the heart. Massage also increases Vasodilatation which in turn helps with decreasing blood pressure and hypertension both during the massage and long term.
Regular massage sessions will continue to improve blood circulation and blood pressure on a more consistent basis. Regular massage also increases the number of red blood cells in the blood allowing for more oxygen and nutrients to be delivered though out the body. The number of white blood cells and platelets also increases giving the immune system a boost. (Massage also helps move the lymph around the body aiding in immune system support.)
The autonomic nervous system, the system that controls our "fight or flight" and "rest and digest" reflexes, moves into a parasympathetic state ("rest and digest") with massage. This allows for the nervous system to rest and reset, in turn giving the cardiovascular system a break.
Another factor massage has on heart health that is the most obvious but often overlooked fact that massage manipulations effect how the body sits and moves. Massage can create space in the chest cavity by freeing up ribs and fascial tissue allowing for more room for the heart to function.
A healthy heart doesn't just come from healthy habits and massage, it also relies on your emotional state and wellbeing. Depression and stress have the ability to lower the immune system and put extra strain on the heart and vascular system. When you are happy you have healthier levels of fibrinogen and cortisol in your blood and that decreases your chances of heart disease. What helps decrease levels of cortisol and boost wellbeing? You guessed it, Massage!
So remember to take care of yourself and your heart and get a massage. Or set yourself up for success and incorporate regular massage in to your routine. Your heart could depend on it!