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6 Must have safety gadgets every guy should have

By Jennifer Cassetta 10 days ago 67 Views No comments

By Jennifer Cassetta

Father’s Day is fast approaching and falls on Sunday, June 18th. Are you need of ideas of what to get Dad to let him know that you care and appreciate him? The following are my favorite must-have safety gadgets that every guy should have:

Mace Brand Flashlight and Stun Gun (http://www.mace.com/mace-brand-2-400-000-volt-black-stun-gun-with-bright-led-717)

A stun gun is a great idea for a Dad who doesn’t want a real gun in his home or on his person. This Mace Brand stun gun also has a flashlight, so it’s great to protect Dad against a nighttime intruder or for him to keep in his car.

2 Way Radio

What guy doesn’t wouldn’t like a set of walkie talkies? They may sound like a kid’s toy but if your Dad is an outdoorsman he could really use these. Using 2 way radios to communicate with his camping, hiking or snowboarding buddy can keep him safe if he got into any trouble, got injured or simply lost his way.

Portable Charger

Anyone who uses a smartphone, tablet or laptop can use a portable charger for those times when there’s no place to plug in. If Dad travels a lot, this is a great gift for him to pack in his carry-on to make sure he is powered up even when travel delays get in the way. I particularly like portable chargers that have the option to use solar power for energy like this one from Goal Zero (https://www.rei.com/product/893309/goal-zero-flip-20-portable-charger).

Ring Video Doorbell

I love this for older parents who live alone and could use the extra protection. Ring allows you to virtually answer your door and actually speak to someone at your doorstep. Ring provides your with cameras that you can easily install around your house and at your main door. When someone rings the doorbell, you will get a notification on your smartphone and you can see who’s there and speak if you want, without actually being home! If you are at home, you’ll be able to see who’s there and choose if you want to get the door or not. You must have wireless internet to use this service. (https://ring.com)

Headlamp

Headlamps aren’t just for miners. Keeping a headlamp in dad’s bedside table is a great backup in case the electricity goes out and he has to get up to check out a noise or even just to go to the bathroom. He may even wear it to read in bed if Mom has an earlier bedtime. Here are some different headlamps from REI: https://www.rei.com/search.html?q=headlamp&origin=...

Mace Brand Alert 911

Again, if Dad is getting up there in the years, the Mace Brand Alert 911 is a great tool to keep him safe if anything suddenly happened to his health. He can wear it around his neck at home or when he’s out and about and when pressed, it will call 911 for him. If he’s fallen on the sidewalk or has sudden pain in his chest, 911 can be a button push away, versus having to find his phone that may not be on his person.

Happy Father’s Day to all of the Dads out there!

Safety for Women Runners

By Jennifer Cassetta 13 days ago 67 Views No comments

By Jennifer Cassetta

This past year has not been a great year for women’s safety while running. 10 months ago three women were murdered while out running. The first, Karina Vetrano, was running in a park in Queens, NY, when she was raped and murdered. The second, Vanessa Marcotte, was running in Princeton, Massachusetts, near her mom’s house when she was also murdered and her body set afire. Alexandra Brueger was the third woman who was murdered while out running in Rose Township, Michigan. She was gunned down by her assailant.

Back in March, Kelly Herron, was attacked in a public bathroom in a park while she was four miles into her run. Her assailant took her to the ground and she fought back long enough until a man passing by came in and the two of them were able to lock the attacker in a bathroom with a carabiner until the police arrived.

In May, a woman named Renee (she didn’t want to have her last name released), was attacked while running the Ragnar Relay in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. She was in the middle of her first leg when a man attacked her and she fell to the ground. Luckily, during her struggle a woman heard the distress and called out to Renee. That alone was enough for the attacker to be scared off.

Although these were all isolated incidents, it does sound scary when reading about them all at once. This article is not meant to scare anyone from running alone ever again. The purpose of this article is to empower us to feel strong, safe and prepared while out running.

Here are a few ways women can feel more strong and safe when running outside alone.

  • Share your location.

Before you head out the door, there are a few apps you can use to track your route and share your route with other people. Strava and Find My Friends are examples of such apps that allow you to share your run with a partner, friend, roommate or parent so someone will always know where you are, as long as your phone is still with you.

  • Check your six.

Make a habit of looking behind you (6 o’clock) from time to time while on your run. Make eye contact with anyone that you see, therefore they know they can no longer surprise you. You’ve seen them and made a mental note of their appearance. Look for any strange behavior. That’s how Renee noticed a man running behind her during her Ragnar race and his odd behavior of jumping on and off the sidewalk, especially when cars approached.

  • Turn down the volume.

I know it’s unrealistic to advise people to leave their music at home. But, if you do choose to listen to music on your run, leave one ear bud out and turn the volume low enough so you can hear what’s going on around you.

  • Switch up your route.

Try not to run the same course every time. Switch up your runs so you don’t become predictable to a would-be stalker.

  • Be prepared for the worst.

Visualizing what you would do in different safety scenarios can help keep you on high alert while out running alone. For example, visualize yourself in Kelly Herron’s shoes if you were to enter a public bathroom and there was a man standing in one of the stalls. Give yourself multiple options of ways you could keep safe.

  • Learn self-defense.

In most of the stories above, it was reported that the women fought back against their attackers. Sometimes, fighting back is enough to have your attacker change their mind. Sometimes, screaming and making enough noise will help a bystander hear you and want to help you. Either way, it can’t hurt to learn at least the basics to help you physically defend yourself if ever needed.

  • Carry pepper spray.

If running alone is your thing, I highly recommend carrying pepper spray. This Mace Brand Hot Pink Jogger Pepper Spray (http://www.mace.com/products/personal-defense/defense-sprays/jogging-fitness-mace-pepper-spray) is perfect for runners. If you don’t like having things in your hands while running, try the Booby Trap Bra to carry your pepper spray in. A woman who was attacked while wearing her active gear created the Booby Trap Bra. She decided to take her experience and create a product that would empower women to stay active while having the means to protect themselves on their body. You can find out more about the Booby Trap Bra here. (http://boobytrapbras.com/how-it-began/)

We want to hear from you! How do you practice personal safety while out running?

5 Ways to Stay Safe While Biking

By Jennifer Cassetta 1 month ago 235 Views No comments

by Jennifer Cassetta

According to the Travel Channel, the top ten cities for cycling are: Boulder, Portland, New York City, Washington D.C., Minneapolis, Tucson, Austin, Missoula, San Diego and Louisville. Personally, when I lived in New York City, you couldn’t pay me to get on a bicycle because I was afraid of careless drivers and narrow streets. However, in the past few years, great improvements have been made to make the city and all of these other cities listed, a friendlier place for cyclists.

Now that I live in Los Angeles, I try to use my bicycle as much as I can all year round because the weather permits it. Not only does biking save you dollars at the gas pump, but you are also burning calories while commuting. As if that’s not enough to persuade you to hit the road on a bike, the benefits to the environment are worth it alone. Your carbon footprint will reduce drastically and that’s a benefit to everyone.

Whether you live in a bike friendly city or not, you will need to take safety precautions before and during your ride. In honor of National Bike Safety Month, here are 5 ways to stay safe while biking:

1. Watch out for opening doors.

While riding through the city or town streets next to parked cars, try to keep an eye ahead looking for people in parked cars who may be about to open their doors into traffic. Getting hit by an opening door is NOT fun. Use a bell to alert both drivers and pedestrians that you are coming in hot!

2. Wear a helmet.

Protect your most important asset, your brain! If you are ever struck by a car or knocked off your bike somehow, protecting your brain is vital to your future healing.

3. Carry protection.

You never know when you may find yourself with a flat tire. Or perhaps you’ve taken a wrong turn and wound up in a dodgy neighborhood. It’s always important to carry some form of non-lethal protection, if you are ever threatened by someone up to no good.

The Mace Brand KeyGuard pepper spray carabiner model is great for biking safety because it is easy to latch on to your belt buckle, keys (if they are easily accessible) or even your handle bars. You want to keep it in a place that is out in the open and ready for you to grab and use when needed. To protect yourself against an unruly dog, you can also carry a Mace Brand Muzzle Dog Pepper Spray. Last but not least, depending on your bike tires, you may want to carry an extra tube or a patch kit in case of a flat.

4. Invest in a trusty lock.

I know very few people that live in Los Angeles that have not had a bike stolen from them. A strong bike lock is not the thing to scrimp on. Invest in a good bike lock to reduce bike theft because nobody is happy after seeing their wire lock cut open and bike missing.

5. Be seen at night.

It can be difficult to see a bike at night if you are a driver, especially on roads that are not well lit. Now imagine how much safer you could be if you had blinking lights for cars to spot you. Try having at least one white blinking light on the front of your bike and one red blinking light on the back. I also wear an LED arm band blinking light like this one from Mace Brand, and the Mace Brand Shoe Safety Lights at the same time. You can never be too bright!

Keep Mom Safe and Healthy with These 3 Tips

By Jennifer Cassetta 1 month ago 304 Views No comments

By Jennifer Cassetta

Mace Brand Mother’s Day Blog Post

By Jennifer Cassetta

Keep Mom Safe and Healthy with These 3 Tips

Every day should be Mother’s Day. Moms deserve our appreciation and gratitude for giving us life, guidance and unconditional love. On Sunday, May 14th let’s show our moms that we not only appreciate them but care for their health and safety as well.

Our moms are most likely the ones that taught us certain personal safety basics from a young age. Things like “stranger danger” or simply “don’t talk strangers” are common tips a young mom will teach her kids. Moms can be our greatest protectors while we are young.

As we age, at least for me, the roles begin to reverse and we start to be more concerned for our parents’ personal safety and health.

Depending on where you are in the cycle of life, your mom may be starting to get to an age where she could use some more assistance then she did previously. If that sounds like you, here is a basic checklist of things you could do to keep your mom safe and healthy:

1. Make sure your mom is going for her annual health exams

Many people choose not to go to the doctor unless something is wrong, but it’s important to know vital stats and track them from year to year. Things like getting stats from blood work, blood pressure, resting heart rate, and mammograms (especially if breast cancer runs in the family) are fundamental as we age.

2. Encourage exercise

Support your mom’s exercise routine and if she doesn’t have one, it’s never too late to start. Exercise is going to keep mom’s heart strong, weight managed and bones strong. A balanced exercise routine can also lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar levels and manage stress and anxiety.

If your mom isn’t the type to head out to the gym, there are plenty of great ways to encourage her to exercise at home. Map out a safe route for her to walk everyday to get her heart rate up. Perhaps she can find a neighbor or friend that will join with her for safety and accountability reasons. My mom has a stationary bike and treadmill at home, which are also great ideas for moms that live in colder climates and can’t get outside all year round. For tech savvy moms, a FitBit or other fitness trackers would be a great gift for Mother’s Day to help them track their fitness and reach their goals.

3. Provide personal safety and defense products

Last, but so critical, is thinking of mom’s safety. This is something we think about especially if mom is alone. Safety for single moms or moms that have lost their significant others should be high on our priority list.

I absolutely love the Mace Alert 911 as a gift for mom’s personal safety. It will help her reach emergency services by the press of a button. She can wear the device around her neck while she’s out exercising, shopping or home alone. If anything goes wrong and she feels in danger she can easily access 911, instead of having to find her phone. The Mace Alert 911 will track her by GPS and she will have help in no time. What a relief!

5 Ways to Keep Your Children Safe

By Jennifer Cassetta 2 months ago 267 Views No comments

by Jennifer Cassetta

Whether you live in a big city or small town, it’s important to teach children about their personal safety. There is no perfect age to do this but, in general, the sooner the better. Empowering your young ones with lessons of safety not only makes them safer, it can also have you worry less.

1. Listen to your intuition

Our intuition is our greatest gift when it comes to personal safety for ourselves and for our children. We tend to take our intuition lightly and oftentimes ignore our gut feelings.

Having a gut feeling that something is off about your child’s safety whether at daycare, school or home with a babysitter is a feeling you should always listen to. If you are wrong, no harm is done. If you are right, then you can take action to protect your family. Either way, tune in and investigate your feelings.

2. Talk to your kids

I grew up with a Dad that was an ex-NYPD detective, which meant two things: I didn’t get away with anything and I was taught at an early age to be aware of my personal safety.

It may be challenging to speak to your children about the possible danger that could affect them in the world. We don’t want to scare our children and at the same time we want to make them feel protected and safe. However, it is important to teach kids about “stranger danger” and even danger from people that aren’t strangers. Sadly, many children are harmed by people that they do know, whether that be a family member, caretaker or other member of the community.

Keep an open dialogue and assure your kids that it is safe to confide in you anytime that someone violates their personal space.

3. Teach kids personal space

Personal space can vary between cultures. Generally speaking, here in the U.S. personal space can be defined by holding your arms out to your side and twirling 360 degrees. Anything inside that circle is your personal space. We can teach kids that strangers should not be in their personal space without consent. The same goes for people that are not strangers. Empower your child to set boundaries within their personal space and to communicate when they feel their boundaries have been violated.

4. Add a layer of protection

Before sending your kids off to the bus stop or the playground place an added layer of protection on them by clipping the Mace Brand clip-on personal alarm onto their jacket or backpack. If they ever feel threatened, they can press the alarm to alert bystanders that they may be in danger. The alarm may also deter the attacker. As an added back up, the alarm also acts as a whistle.

5. Take them to martial arts classes

As someone who taught kid’s martial arts classes for years, I can tell you firsthand that the benefits of teaching kids self defense through martial arts are incredible. I saw young, shy children blossom into confident young leaders in the studio that I taught at. Martial arts not only teaches kids how to kick and punch but more importantly, how to stick up for themselves and others. It also helps them with discipline too, which is an added bonus!

3 Things to Know About Sexual Assault Awareness Month

By Jennifer Cassetta 2 months ago 229 Views No comments

By Jennifer Cassetta

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) and it is a great time to raise awareness and help put an end to sexual assault. We no longer need to act like sexual assault is a taboo subject, not to be spoken about. For this month, at least, we can talk, share and support survivors of sexual assault.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), this year’s SAAM theme is Engaging New Voices and the aim is to engage faith leaders, parents, fraternities and sororities, and community bystanders to help prevent sexual assault by changing the culture and social norms that allow sexual assault to exist.

Here are 3 things everyone should know about sexual assault and how to join the cause to help change the culture and prevent sexual assault from happening:

1. What is it and who is at risk?

Sexual assault is an umbrella term, meaning it is not just one type of sexual act that defines sexual assault. According to the U.S. Justice Department, sexual assault is defined as “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.”

No group of society is safe from sexual assault, although the majority of survivors are women. About one in five women (18.3%) and one in 71 men (1.4%) in the U.S. have been raped at some time in their lives. *

On college campuses specifically, the statistics are even worse. One in four college women will be the victim of a sexual assault and one in 16 men will also.

2. What is rape culture and how do we combat it?

Rape culture is a term that is used to describe an environment in which rape is normalized in a society. There are many examples of rape culture prevalent in our society but in general it is recognized when women’s bodies are objectified, misogynistic language is used and when sexual violence (mostly against women) is glamorized in the media.

To combat rape culture, we can take a stand against people who use misogynistic language. We can stand up to people who dismiss sexual assault as the victim’s fault. We can stop watching or buying media that glamorizes sexual violence against women and certainly not allow our children to consume it either.

For the future, we can teach our younger generation the importance of respectful, healthy relationships and the definition of consent in hopes they will grow up to practice these values.

3. How can we help support survivors?

Being a survivor of sexual assault effects people on a deep emotional and psychological level. Survivors need support from others and professional counseling can be extremely helpful.

Checking in with survivors to make sure they feel supported is important. Also critical is to believe survivors when they share stories and assure them that it is not their fault. Sexual assault happens when assaulters choose to assault and rapists choose to rape, not due to any fault of the survivor. Never question a survivor on why it happened to him or her.

If you are a college student, member of a fraternity or sorority, or a faculty member, you can head to the NSVRC website for campaign ideas and organize an SAAM event this month.

Lastly, if a survivor confides in you, and you are not sure how to support them, you can contact RAINN (www.rainn.org) for advice. RAINN even offers free counseling to survivors.

*All statistics found on the NSVRC.org website.

3 Things to Know About Sexual Assault Awareness Month

By Jennifer Cassetta 2 months ago 246 Views No comments

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

3 Things You Need to Know

By Jennifer Cassetta

3 Things to Know About Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) and it is a great time to raise awareness and help put an end to sexual assault. We no longer need to act like sexual assault is a taboo subject, not to be spoken about. For this month, at least, we can talk, share and support survivors of sexual assault.

Here are 3 things everyone should know about sexual assault and how to join the cause to help change the culture and prevent sexual assault from happening:

1. What is it and who is at risk?

No group of society is safe from sexual assault, although the majority of survivors are women. About one in five women (18.3%) and one in 71 men (1.4%) in the U.S. have been raped at some time in their lives. *

On college campuses specifically, the statistics are even worse. One in four college women will be the victim of a sexual assault and one in 16 men will also.

2. What is rape culture and how do we combat it?

Rape culture is a term that is used to describe an environment in which rape is normalized in a society. There are many examples of rape culture prevalent in our society but in general it is recognized when women’s bodies are objectified, misogynistic language is used and when sexual violence (mostly against women) is glamorized in the media.

To combat rape culture, we can take a stand against people who use misogynistic language. We can stand up to people who dismiss sexual assault as the victim’s fault. We can stop watching or buying media that glamorizes sexual violence against women and certainly not allow our children to consume it either.

For the future, we can teach our younger generation the importance of respectful, healthy relationships and the definition of consent in hopes they will grow up to practice these values.

3. How can we help support survivors?

Being a survivor of sexual assault effects people on a deep emotional and psychological level. Survivors need support from others and professional counseling can be extremely helpful.

Checking in with survivors to make sure they feel supported is important. Also critical is to believe survivors when they share stories and assure them that it is not their fault. Sexual assault happens when assaulters choose to assault and rapists choose to rape, not due to any fault of the survivor. Never question a survivor on why it happened to him or her.

If you are a college student, member of a fraternity or sorority, or a faculty member, you can head to the NSVRC website for campaign ideas and organize an SAAM event this month.

Lastly, if a survivor confides in you, and you are not sure how to support them, you can contact RAINN (www.rainn.org) for advice. RAINN even offers free counseling to survivors.

*All statistics found on the NSVRC.org website.


The 5 Things You Need for Outdoor Fitness Safety

By Jennifer Cassetta 3 months ago 4186 Views No comments

By Jennifer Cassetta

Springtime is finally here. It’s time to take our exercise outdoors and enjoy some fresh air while appreciating what nature provides for us. Studies have shown that exercising in natural environments versus indoors enhances mental well-being. Whether you like to walk, run, hike or bike, be sure to take the following five things with you for your next outdoor adventure.

Your Wits:
Having your wits about you while outdoors is paramount to personal safety. It simply means keeping your guard up and remaining alert no matter what. It can be tough to stay alert at all times while exercising because it is common to zone out. This especially happens if you exercise alone and listen to music.

In the past six months, there have been quite a few brutal attacks on women runners that have made the news. No good comes from these horrible events, but we do have the opportunity to remind ourselves about our safety while running or training outdoors.

Exercising with a buddy or group is much safer than being alone. If you are alone, be extra alert and please leave your music and headphones at home. Or, at the very least, if you must listen to music, leave one ear bud out and keep your music low so you can hear the outside world around you.

Hydration:
Don’t rely on getting water from fountains or machines— an out of service sign may derail your route. When our muscles are hydrated, they work harder and for longer periods of time. Exercising outdoors without water can be a big mistake if you are outdoors longer than you planned, if the weather was hotter than you thought or if your body was dehydrated to begin with.

Be sure you have more water than you think you need, just in case you get lost on a hike or wind up injured and without water. Plan according to the duration and intensity of your exercise—the more you sweat, the more you should be drinking. The hotter and drier the climate, the more water you will need.

If you are running or hiking for more than two hours, I suggest wearing a hydration vest that carries at least two liters of water.

Fuel:
It’s always good to have a snack on hand when heading out to exercise. If you tend to experience bouts of low blood sugar, this will be especially important. When blood sugar gets too low and you are still training, your body can shut down and you may feel shaky, start to sweat profusely or even pass out. A protein bar, banana or some trail mix are a few portable snack ideas that can sustain you until you get home.

Defense:
Sometimes, even when we are being alert we can find ourselves in a dangerous situation where we have to defend ourselves—just like the woman who fought off her attacker in a park bathroom in Seattle. Carrying the Mace Brand Pepper Spray Jogger can not only help you defend yourself ever attacked, it can also help keep your mind alert. The act of holding the pepper spray in your hand signals your mind to keep alert. Knowing some basic self defense moves will also increase your chances of survival.

Carry ID:
It’s so important to carry some form of identification with you any time you head out to exercise. If you were in a bad accident and knocked unconscious someone must be able to identify you. Many of us rely on our smartphones, but in an emergency a stranger should be able to get your name quickly without playing a guessing game from your phone.

For those of you that train outdoors and would rather wear your identification on your wrist, ankle or around your neck, I love this company who created the Road ID Bracelet. Your name and emergency contact info will be engraved on your choice of jewelry and you can also include any medical issues you have on the ID. Brilliant.

Feeling Safe & Empowered in Your Twenty-Somethings

By Jennifer Cassetta 4 months ago 543 Views No comments

By Jennifer Cassetta

I’m sure many people would agree that your 20-something years are some of the most fun and exciting times of your life. I know for me it was. I had graduated college and was living with my best girls in a three (match-book-sized) bedroom apartment on the fifth floor of a fifth-floor walkup building on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. I worked two jobs, went out with friends and life seemed somewhat simple.

My roommates and I kept tabs on each other so we always knew each other’s whereabouts and when we would be home. If one of us were gone a bit too long, we would check in on each other. We had a mutual yet unwritten safety system. After a couple of years, however, we all went our separate ways and got our own studio apartments so we could live on our own.

That’s when it became blatantly obvious that personal safety needed to be a high priority and a part of my everyday routine. Commuting alone, entering an empty home alone, and sleeping in an apartment by myself was new and sometimes a little scary. Luckily, around the same time I was training in martial arts, which gave me a better awareness of my personal safety. As I practiced this newfound awareness I began to feel more confident and safe which was very empowering.

If you are in your twenties, and living on your own for the first time in your life, you don’t have the comfort of knowing there are campus security cameras on your walk home, or campus police a panic button away.

Whether you are living with roommates or completely by yourself, here are my top tips for living safe and empowered in your twenties.

Commute like a boss:

Whether on public transportation or in your car, heading to and from work should be an alert and empowering experience. Too many of us like to zone out with headphones on, absorbed in our smartphones or tuned into our to-do lists. Yet, this is exactly when we should be paying attention to the road or the subway platform, holding our purses/bags tightly and walking with intent to our destination. Keep your phone in your bag and leave the headphones at home so all of your senses are awake.

If possible, take different routes home, so your commute doesn’t become predictable to potential stalkers.

Carry a Mace Brand personal alarm or pepper spray in your hand while walking to and from your apartment or car.

Make home a safe space:

Your home should be your sanctuary: a place you retreat to after working hard all day. You shouldn’t have to worry about your safety once inside your home. If you haven’t yet, make sure all windows and doors are secure. They all should have working locks that you use every day, especially when you are sleeping. For extra protection, use Mace Brand Door & Window Guards to scare off any intruders with piercing alarms during any forced entry.

Keep your blinds or curtains closed in the evenings when it’s easy to see inside your home. You never know who may be watching.

Also, try and get to know your neighbors. It’s important to know who’s living beside you and who you can count on in the case of an emergency.

Have a check in buddy:

A check in buddy is someone you check in with on a daily basis. This can be your roommate, bestie or a relative. Someone should know your whereabouts at all times. It’s also empowering to play that role for someone else (so reach out to a friend and make the promise to always check in).

Not into sharing your whereabouts with someone all the time? There’s an app for that. In fact, there are many free apps for that nowadays. The following three apps all allow you to set up a network of guardians who can follow your whereabouts if you let them. If you’re someone who likes their alone time [hiking, biking, running, wandering or shopping] I highly recommend you use one of the following:

Watch Over Me

bSafe

Circle of 6

The more aware we are of our personal safety, the more confident we will become. The more confident we become, the more empowered we feel.

Stay safe!

3 Uncommon Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

By Jennifer Cassetta 4 months ago 534 Views No comments

By Jennifer Cassetta

Heart Health Month is celebrated throughout the whole month of February to bring awareness to the importance reducing the risk of heart disease. Heart disease is the #1 killer in the U.S. for both men and women. The good news is that we can help prevent heart disease by starting healthier habits now and continuing them all year long.

We all know that healthy habits for heart health include exercise and a heart-healthy diet. However, high levels of stress can be as dangerous to our heart health as a junk food diet and couch potato lifestyle. Here are three ways to help reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering your stress levels.

  1. Start a meditation practice.

It’s easy to get caught up in our hectic lives and busy calendars and finding work-life balance can be challenging. However, slowing down and developing a meditation practice can help you feel less stress, more productive and even happier.

A meditation practice can take on many forms. If you are into physical activity than something like yoga may be to your liking. You’re moving your body with awareness and tuning everything else in your life out for that time period. If you are more of the reflective type, perhaps journaling is more your speed. Journaling you’re your daily thoughts can help us reflect on the things we are grateful for in our lives as well as give us perspective on our challenges. A sitting meditation is a practice that anyone can take up to help lower stress and gain mind-body awareness. There are many ways to practice a sitting meditation, but the easiest one is to simply focus on your breath. By doing that, the body starts to relax which sends high blood pressure down and signals the brain to lower adrenaline and other stress hormones.

2. Spend time with seniors.

Being around children and babies can be joyful and send your body lots of happy chemicals. However, it can also be exhausting and even stressful if you have your hands full. I’ve always found that spending time with senior citizens forces us to slow down our pace and can offer us perspective.

If you don’t have many seniors in your life, you can head over to a senior citizen center in your community and volunteer for a few hours. Read a book, share a meal or lend your ear to someone who may not have any visitors. Volunteering is a great way for you to feel good about your contribution but also for the recipients to benefit as well.

In addition, if you’re lucky enough to still have your grandparents or your parents in your life who are seniors than you can reach out to them more often. A handwritten card is always special at any age, a phone call, or a video message from you and the kids will be sure to brighten up a relative’s day. If you have someone in your life that you worry about, gift them safety through Mace Alert 911. If your loved one is home bound or still active, this product that is the size of a Tic-Tac box can save their life if they are in a medical emergency. It will call 911 by pushing a button anywhere there is cellular service. It can be worn and therefore, more easily accessible than a phone. Again, this can help lower your anxiety and stress levels and rest easy knowing they are a call away from help during an emergency.

3. Visit an animal shelter.

Animals need love too! If you are an animal lover it can be the most heart-warming and heart-busting thing you can do. You don’t have to be in the market for adopting a pet to grab a bag of treats and go visit some cats and dogs that are locked up in cages. If you are in between pets or have room for an extra but not sure about adopting, there are plenty of rescue organizations that are desperate for foster homes.

Not only do animals give you unconditional love, according to a study by the Minnesota Stroke Institute, owning a cat can lower your odds by 30% of suffering from a heart attack! The researchers assume that dog owners would most likely give you the same benefit. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3317329/)

Save an animal and save yourself from a lifestyle-related disease by lowering blood pressure and stress.

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