Come February every year, we’ve got HEARTS on our mind. However, we’re not thinking about frilly, pink, chocolate, or paper ones. Rather, we’re talking about the life-giving, tireless organ that beats about 100,000 times a day just for you, every day. Your heart – the fist-sized pump in your chest that is responsible for sending blood and oxygen to all parts of your body deserves to take center stage once in a while. This is why we’re always glad when American Heart Month rolls around. And, given that heart disease is responsible for about 1 in 4 deaths in the United States, it makes good sense that we all take this opportunity to spread the word, spread the heart love, and maybe learn a thing or two about how to best take care of our tickers.
We all know that good heart care includes regular exercise, good food, and low stress. However, did you know that massage also happens to be great for your heart? (As if massage needed another item to add to its already mile-long list of benefits. What a show-off.)
- Under pressure? Massage has been proven multiple times to effectively lower blood pressure. In just one study (found here https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18315516?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum ) 263 study participants received a 45 – 60 minute massage. After the massage, their blood pressure dropped an average of 10mm Hg, and their heart rate dropped an average of 10 beats per minute. The fact that massage can bring about results this drastic without the use of medication is awfully impressive.
- We’re a little stressed out. And our heart pays the price. Too much stress can lead to cardiac arrhythmias, which prevents the heart from pumping effectively, therefore causing an insufficient blood supply to reach the brain and other organs. Regular massage can reduce this effect, leading to greater heart and organ health.
- Are you sympathetic? Our nervous system has two modes – sympathetic and parasympathetic. In sympathetic mode we’re in “fight-or-flight” mode, causing our blood vessels to narrow, heart rate to rise, and breathing rate to elevate. This stress response also causes or stress hormone cortisol to rise. Massage can move our nervous system from sympathetic to parasympathetic, which is our bodies’ resting response.
- Certain circulation. Poor circulation can mean trouble for heart health. The health of your arteries relies on proper circulation, and lack thereof can lead to heart disease. Massage is a great promoter of whole-body circulation, leading to more efficient blood flow and waste elimination.
Clearly, massage ranks high on the to-do list for heart health. Consider the little steps you take now to ensure good health a great investment. If you can do a few easy (and, let’s face it, pleasurable) things like getting a massage now to possibly lessen any symptoms of illness, or other health problems later, isn’t it worth it? Not only that, we love the fact that doing this simple act can improve quality of life both now and later. We wish you a happy American Heart Month now, and a happy heart for years to come.