Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Importance of Exercise and Heart Health

We all know that exercise is good for us, but what you may not know is the impact that exercise and regular fitness has on heart health. As February is American Heart Month, here are some fun facts about exercise and heart health, and some tips for keeping your ticker in tip top shape!

Exercise for a Healthy Heart
A sedentary (inactive) lifestyle is one of the top risk factors for heart disease. Fortunately, it's a risk factor that you can do something about. Regular exercise, especially aerobic exercise, has many benefits. It can:
  • Strengthen your heart and cardiovascular system.
  • Improve your circulation and help your body use oxygen better.
  • Improve your heart failure symptoms.
  • Increase energy levels so you can do more activities without becoming tired or short of breath.
  • Increase endurance.
  • Lower blood pressure.
  • Improve muscle tone and strength.
  • Improve balance and joint flexibility.
  • Strengthen bones.
  • Help reduce body fat and help you reach a healthy weight.
  • Help reduce stress, tension, anxiety, and depression.
  • Boost self-image and self-esteem.
  • Improve sleep.
  • Make you feel more relaxed and rested.
  • Make you look fit and feel healthy.
Getting started with an exercise program:
Before starting an exercise program, talk to your doctor about:
  • Medication changes. New medications can greatly affect your response to exercise; your doctor can tell you if your normal exercise routine is still safe.
  • Heavy lifting. Make sure that lifting or pushing heavy objects and chores such as raking, shoveling, mowing, or scrubbing aren't off limits. Chores around the house can be tiring for some people; make sure you only do what you are able to do without getting tired.
  • Safe exercises. Get the doctor's approval before you lift weights, use a weight machine, jog, or swim.
What Type of Exercise Is Best?
  • Stretching: slow lengthening of the muscles. Stretching the arms and legs before and after exercising helps prepare the muscles for activity and helps prevent injury and muscle strain. Regular stretching also increases your range of motion and flexibility.
  • Cardiovascular or aerobic: steady physical activity using large muscle groups. This type of exercise strengthens the heart and lungs and improves the body's ability to use oxygen. Aerobic exercise has the most benefits for your heart. Over time, aerobic exercise can help decrease your heart rate and blood pressure at rest and improve your breathing.
  • Strengthening: repeated muscle contractions (tightening) until the muscle becomes tired. For people with heart failure, many strengthening exercises are not recommended.
What Are Examples of Aerobic Exercises?
Aerobic exercises include: walking, jogging, jumping rope, bicycling (stationary or outdoor), cross-country skiing, skating, rowing, and low-impact aerobics or water aerobics.

How Often Should I Exercise?
In general, to achieve maximum benefits, you should gradually work up to an aerobic session lasting 20 to 30 minutes, at least three to four times a week. Exercising every day or every other day will help you keep a regular aerobic exercise schedule.

What Should I Include in an Exercise Program?
Every exercise session should include a warm-up, conditioning phase, and a cool-down.
  • Warm-up. This helps your body adjust slowly from rest to exercise. A warm-up reduces the stress on your heart and muscles, slowly increases your breathing, circulation (heart rate), and body temperature. It also helps improve flexibility and reduce muscle soreness. The best warm-up includes stretching, range of motion activities, and the beginning of the activity at a low intensity level.
  • Conditioning. This follows the warm-up. During the conditioning phase, the benefits of exercise are gained and calories are burned. Be sure to monitor the intensity of the activity (check your heart rate). Don't over do it.
  • Cool-down. This is the last phase of your exercise session. It allows your body to gradually recover from the conditioning phase. Your heart rate and blood pressure will return to near resting values. Cool-down does not mean to sit down! In fact, do not sit, stand still, or lie down right after exercise. This may cause you to feel dizzy or lightheaded or have heart palpitations (fluttering in your chest). The best cool-down is to slowly decrease the intensity of your activity. You may also do some of the same stretching activities you did in the warm-up phase.
How Can I Avoid Over Doing Exercise?
Here are a few guidelines to keep you from doing too much exercise or exercising too vigorously:
  • Gradually increase your activity level, especially if you have not been exercising regularly.
  • Wait at least one and a half hours after eating a meal before exercising.
  • When drinking liquids during exercise, remember to follow your fluid restriction guidelines.
  • Take time to include a five-minute warm-up, including stretching exercises, before any aerobic activity and include a five- to 10-minute cool down after the activity. Stretching can be done while standing or sitting.
  • Exercise at a steady pace. Keep a pace that allows you to still talk during the activity.
  • Keep an exercise record.
How Can I Stick With Exercise?
  • Have fun! Choose a type of exercise that you enjoy. You'll be more likely to stick with it if you enjoy the activity. Here are some questions you can think about before choosing a routine:
  • What physical activities do I enjoy?
  • Do I prefer group or individual activities?
  • What programs best fit my schedule?
  • Do I have physical conditions that limit my choice of exercise?
  • What goals do I have in mind? (For example, losing weight, strengthening muscles, or improving flexibility.)
  • Schedule exercise into your daily routine. Plan to exercise at the same time every day (such as in the mornings when you have more energy). Add a variety of exercises so that you do not get bored. If you exercise regularly, it will soon become part of your lifestyle.
  • Find an exercise "buddy." This will help you stay motivated.
No matter what type of exercise you practice, you are taking an active role in your heart, and overall health. So get up, and get moving! 

What are your favorite types of exercise?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

cheribundi Cherry Recipe Contest!

Cherries are a power packed ingredient, adding a ton of antioxidants to your favorite foods. Whether you add them to your breakfast oatmeal, salads, smoothies, etc., cherries make a tasty addition to any  meal, and by adding cherries to your daily diet, you are providing your body disease-fighting nutrition.

So, we want to know, how do you cherry? Submit your favorite recipes including any form of cherries - fresh, dried, juiced, baked, frozen, etc. for the chance to win a cheribundi gift basket, full of cheribundi tart cherry juice and some sweet schwag!

How to enter: Post your cherry recipe on the cheribundi Facebook page, or, share a comment underneath this blog post before February 20, 2011. On Monday, February 21st, we will announce our winner!

Questions? Contact Adriane at

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine's Inspired Chocolate Covered Dried Cherries

Courtesy of The Food Network


  • 2 cups dried cherries
  • 16 ounces bittersweet chocolate, tempered


Place the dried cherries in a coating pan attached to a stand mixer. Spin at low speed. Using a ladle, add the chocolate to the spinning cherries. Add one ladleful at a time until the cherries are coated to the desired thickness. (Use a 50/50 ratio (50 percent chocolate, 50 percent weight of the cherries.) If a thicker coat is desired, use more chocolate and vice versa. 

How to Temper Chocolate(From Dessert Circus, Extraordinary Desserts You Can Make At Home by Jacques Torres):

Chocolate is tempered so that after it has been melted, it retains its gloss and hardens again without becoming chalky and white (that happens when the molecules of fat separate and form on top of the chocolate). There are a variety of ways to temper.

One of the easiest ways to temper chocolate is to chop it into small pieces and then place it in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time on high power until most of the chocolate is melted. Be very careful not to overheat it. (The temperature of dark chocolate should be between 88 and 90 degrees F, slightly warmer than your bottom lip. It will retain its shape even when mostly melted. White and milk chocolates melt at a temperature approximately 2 degrees F less because of the amount of lactose they contain.) Any remaining lumps will melt in the chocolate's residual heat. Use an immersion blender or whisk to break up the lumps. Usually, chocolate begins to set, or crystallize, along the side of the bowl. As it sets, mix those crystals into the melted chocolate to temper it. A glass bowl retains heat well and keeps the chocolate tempered longer.

Another way to temper chocolate is called seeding. In this method, add small pieces of unmelted chocolate to melted chocolate. The amount of unmelted chocolate to be added depends on the temperature of the melted chocolate, but is usually 1/4 of the total amount. It is easiest to use an immersion blender for this, or a whisk.

The classic way to temper chocolate is called tabliering. Two thirds of the melted chocolate is poured onto a marble or another cold work surface. The chocolate is spread out and worked with a spatula until its temperature is approximately 81 degrees F. At this stage, it is thick and begins to set. This tempered chocolate is then added to the remaining non-tempered chocolate and mixed thoroughly until the mass has a completely uniform temperature. If the temperature is still too high, part of the chocolate is worked further on the cold surface until the correct temperature is reached. This is a lot of work, requires a lot of room, and makes a big mess.

A simple method of checking tempering, is to apply a small quantity of chocolate to a piece of paper or to the point of a knife. If the chocolate has been correctly tempered, it will harden evenly and show a good gloss within a few minutes.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Amazing Antioxidants: Tart Cherry Juice

Find out the 3 reasons tart cherry juice is being called the ultimate antioxidant. New research shows it can reduce pain, reduce your risk of heart...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Cherries and Heart Health

As cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in America, heart health is a big issue these days. Now, we all know that taking care of your heart is important, and that a well balanced diet, paired with exercise, can help prevent the symptoms associated with heart disease, such as hypertension, diabetes, etc. but is that enough? To maintain heart health, and help your ticker stay in tip top shape, taking extra precautions and dietary measures may be in order. Thankfully recent studies indicate that “Super Fruits,” specifically cherries, may play a role in reducing inflammation and risk factors for heart disease.

As February is American Heart Month, let’s take a look at how cherries reduce inflammation, and why it’s important to get your daily dose for optimum heart health. The latest research conducted by the University of Michigan revealed that a cherry-enriched diet may help lower body fat, total weight, inflammation and cholesterol – all major risk factors for heart disease. While inflammation is a normal process the body uses to fight off infection or injury, according to recent science, a chronic state of inflammation could increase the risk for diseases and may be especially common for those who are overweight or obese, at least in part because of excess weight around the middle. Cherries contain special antioxidants, known as anthocyanins, which help the body reduce inflammation and repair inflamed tissues. *Study information provided by the Cherry Marketing Institute
Incorporating cherries into your everyday diet as part of a heart-healthy regimen is an easy and a delicious way to fend off disease risk factors. Sprinkle dried cherries into your favorite recipes, oatmeal, salads, trail mix or eat just by themselves. Add tart cherry juice to your smoothies, or accompany any meal with a bottle of cheribundi. Incorporate cherries into your favorite desserts, and on a hot summer day enjoy a tart cherry juice popsicle or spritzer. The ways in which to add cherries to your diet are endless and a nutritious way to take care of your heart.

How are you taking care of your ticker this heart month, and beyond?

For more information on cardiovascular/heart health, visit the American Heart Association Web site at