It had been a long day. No, scratch that. It had been a long four years, actually. As I gazed around the house, I wondered when it was that I had lost complete and total control over every aspect of my life. The kitchen looked like a bomb had gone off, the family room floor was covered in toys and Legos and two toddlers were seemingly always underfoot. Someone always needed a diaper change, my windows looked foggy from the fingerprints and someone was always aksing for a snack.
And I was done.
“I want to run away from home,” I said under my breath as my eyes caught my tattered sneakers shoved into the back of the closet, untouched for at least six years.
It had been since before kids that I’d done any kind of exercise and, in that moment in my kitchen, I knew what I had to do.
I had to run away from home. Literally. Because my sanity was hanging in tatters and judging from how tight my yoga pants felt, my mom thighs needed to run away, too.
As soon as my husband walked in the door, I met him, running shoes in hand.
“I’m running away,” I said, dramatically.
He was smart enough to let me go without a word.
As the door slammed behind me and the sun hit my face, I took a deep cleansing breath.
“Just like riding a bike, right?” I said to myself as I set out to coax my tired mom body to go for a run.
No, not at all like riding a bike, actually.
More like a big, hot sweaty shit show that I’m sure made the neighbors laugh as I swore my way through the streets of our neighborhood.
But I survived my run, six years after I’d put my running shoes down in favor of letting motherhood and its demands take over.
And, though it sucked while I was running, I felt pretty damn good when I got home. My mind was more clear, my muscles ached in places that hadn’t seen activity in years and, most of all, my attitude had improved. I felt like I could face the insurmountable pile of laundry and incessant demands for snacks again.
Best of all? Science says that by going out on that run, I protected my heart and surrounding vessels from heart disease, even though it had been a long ass time since my last workout.
So, guess what, ladies? It’s time to dust off those running shoes. Because researchers found in an study published in JAMA Cardiology that even just one thirty-minute loop around your neighborhood can protect your from heart disease, the leading killer of men and women in this country.
Yup, you read that correctly. You don’t need to have been killing yourself at the gym, chasing the elusive thigh gap, for the last ten years in order to be healthier. One sweat session is enough.
Rejoice! What a time to be alive, right?
Researchers in Liverpool have found that exercise provides the heart immediate protection from cardiovascular disease through the mechanism of “cardiac preconditioning.”
In the most basic sense, cardiac preconditioning means that exercise exposes your heart to brief periods of decreased oxygen, known as ischemia. These short attacks condition your heart to be accustomed to dealing with less oxygen, thereby theoretically protecting you if your heart suffers a major cardiac event. Your heart becomes more resistant to damage that can be caused with decrease blood flow to your heart.
Fascinating AF, right?
But what does all of this mean for women?
It means you should stop beating yourself up for not making it to the gym seven days a week, for one. While regular exercise has been shown to have long term benefits to your body over time, researchers say that your heart benefits within a few hours of a workout and that benefit lasts for up to 24 hours. Even turning up the music and dancing away the stress for thirty minutes with your little ones promotes heart health.
And who doesn’t love to blow off some steam with a little dancing, am I right?
According to researchers, just 1 to 3 sweat sessions a week can vastly improve your heart health. We can do that, ladies.
Because the alternative — developing heart disease prematurely — will prevent you from taking care of the kids who sometimes make you feel like you want to run away from home. Basically, scientists are giving us permission to run away from home on the regular because our hearts depend on it. Well, not really, but you get my point.
Exercise can be a great way to connect with the friends you hardly see anymore and can reacquaint you with the person you were before small children sucked every healthy impulse out of you. And, most importantly, your kids will see a mom who is taking the steps necessary to stay healthy and when your family sees the smile on your face when you get home, your family will want you to run away every day.