Want a strong heart? Get heart smart!

February 05, 2018 | by Carol Teteak, M.S.
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

Exercise helps make your heart stronger … and a strong heart works more efficiently!

This means it’s easier for your heart to pump blood throughout the body, which contributes to maintaining or lowering blood pressure, improving circulation, lowering risk of heart disease, improving cholesterol levels and lowering resting heart rate. Sounds great, but how does one attain a strong heart? Get heart smart!

What the experts recommend

According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), cardiorespiratory training is a crucial element to improving and/or maintaining overall health and fitness. This type of training involves challenging the heart (and lungs) through a variety of exercise that enables it to beat at a higher pace (than at rest) for a designated period of time.

2011 ACSM research recommends the pace should vary between moderate and/or vigorous intensity levels for 3-5 days per week. Let’s break down the process to better explain:

Exercise effort

So, how do you know if you are exercising at the right pace? Two great options for tracking your exercise effort are Rate of Perceived Exertion and Heart Rate. One relies on how you feel, and the other is made easier to identify using wearable technology.

  • Rate of Perceived Exertion: Use a scale of 1-10. A moderate pace/intensity should feel like a 5-6. Breathing should be labored but you can catch your breath, answer a question, and may be able to last an extended period of time. Vigorous should feel like an 8-9. This pace is hard to maintain and shouldn’t last for more than two minutes. Breathing is very labored and recovery is required immediately following by reducing effort back to a 5-6.
  • Heart Rate: Heart Rate (HR) is recorded in beats per minute (BPM) and the increase in wearable technology gives several options to track immediately right on your wrist during exercise. Moderate pace/intensity is approximately 50-65 percent of your maximum heart rate referred to as MHR, and a vigorous can put the exerciser at 80-95 percent of MHR.

Choose the option that works best for you but know that both methods are individual to the exerciser, can be affected by physiological variables such as stress and medication, and with regard to HR, have a potential variance of up to 10+ BPMs.

How much time is best?

Those new to this type of exercise should start with shorter periods of time (10-30 minutes) as many days as possible at a light to moderate pace until endurance begins to improve. Exercise such as walking, swimming or a stationary bike are great options for beginners.

Once able to perform cardio training for 3-5 days per week, duration can last anywhere from 30-60 minutes per bout and intensity can vary from workout to workout. It all depends on what your goal is and how much time you have each day to devote to your health.

Work smarter

The best tip I can give is to know that exercise (of any kind) is cumulative! This means you can workout as little as 10 minutes at a time, 2-3 times throughout the day and it counts toward what is recommended.

Additionally, performing alternating timed intervals of moderate and vigorous intensity levels for 20-30 minutes, 1-2 times a week has been shown to be more effective than only performing longer bouts holding at moderate pace.

Read the top 10 fitness trends for 2018.

Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness has experienced and knowledgeable personal trainers, as well as unique and specialized programming, like FIT30-HR, to help you safely and effectively incorporate cardio training into your exercise routine.

Learn more about Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness.


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