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National Walking Day may sound a little silly at first, but consider this: a simple act such as increasing the amount of steps we take every day can have a significant impact on cardiovascular health and heart disease prevention, which is why the American Heart Association (AHA) designated April 2nd as a day to encourage people of all ages to get out there and get moving!

According to the AHA website, walking is the simplest positive change you can make to improve your heart health, and just 30 minutes a day can help you:

  • Reduce your risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
  • Improve your blood pressure, blood sugar levels and blood lipid profile
  • Maintain your body weight and lower the risk of obesity
  • Enhance your mental well-being
  • Reduce your risk of osteoporosis
  • Reduce your risk of breast and colon cancer
  • Reduce your risk of non-insulin dependent (type 2) diabetesi

Ready to walk your way to a healthier heart?
Here are 5 simple ways to add more steps to your daily routine:

  1. Take a lunch break stroll. Consider spending a little bit of your lunch break on your feet. Not only will a midday walk help your heart, but it can help relieve stress so you’re refreshed and energized to finish out your day.
  2. Running errands? Park a little farther away. Whether you’re headed out for groceries, an appointment with your doctor, or simply meeting a friend for coffee, park farther away than you normally would. Those extra steps can add up to a healthier heart!
  3. Opt for a brisk walk with Fido. Instead of just opening up the back door and letting him in the yard, why not take the dog for a quick ten-minute walk before you leave for the day, or as soon as you get home?
  4. Find a walking buddy. Everything’s better with a buddy, and now that spring is here the warmer weather and lingering daylight hours allow us to stay outdoors a little longer each day—so grab your friend or mate and get walking!
  5. Multitask. Get the most out of your walks by incorporating other activities, such as listening to an audiobook or catching up with a friend or family member on the phone.

To find out more about National Walking Day—including how to get others in your community involved—visit the AHA’s National Walking Day web page.

i https://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/PhysicalActivity/Walking/Why-Walking_UCM_461770_Article.jsp

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According to a 2014 National Sleep Foundation Poll, many kids in the United States are not getting a sufficient amount of sleep each night—which the National Institutes of Health say should be around 10 hours nightly for school-age children. But what if helping our little ones catch more shuteye were as simple as adding a daily fish oil supplement to their diet?

A recent study out of Oxford University examined the effects of Omega-3 DHA supplementation (600 mg daily) on more than 350 children ages 7 to 9, about 40 percent of whom suffered from regular sleep disturbances. Results of the 16-week study, slated to be published in an upcoming Journal of Sleep Research, revealed that the kids who received the Omega-3s as opposed to a placebo slept about an hour longer each night and had fewer waking episodes. Professor Paul Montgomery, lead author of the study, believes he knows why.

“Various substances made within the body from Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids have long been known to play key roles in the regulation of sleep,” said Montgomery. “For example, lower ratios of DHA have been linked with lower levels of melatonin, and that would fit with our finding that sleep problems are greater in children with lower levels of DHA in their blood.”

DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, is a beneficial Omega-3 fatty acid found abundantly in cold-water fish such as salmon and tuna. In previous studies DHA has been linked to better sleep quality in children, as well as improvements in thinking and behavior. However, because getting children to each fish can sometimes be a challenge for parents, supplementation is often a beneficial alternative.

Says co-investigator Dr. Alex Richardson, “…this randomized controlled trial does suggest that children’s sleep can be improved by DHA supplements and indicates yet another benefit of higher levels of Omega-3 in the diet.”

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