Exercise and Heart Health

February is heart month and it’s a perfect time to get your Cardiovascular System in shape! When you hit the gym, you might do weight lifting to increase your biceps and triceps, or tone your core and obliques using a medicine ball, or strengthen your quads and glutes with squats; but the most important muscle to exercise is your HEART!

When you engage in physical activity and raise your heart rate, you are taking the steps to keep your heart healthy! Different types of exercise help your heart in different ways. For example, aerobic (oxygen utilizing- longer duration) exercise (i.e. running, biking, swimming, playing sports) makes you sweat and breathe harder as your heart rate starts to climb rapidly. Strength-training exercises (i.e. lifting free weights and using weight machines) are considered anaerobic exercises (not utilizing oxygen- short term). Yoga and Pilates may not make you perspire as much (unless it is Hot yoga or for an extended period of time), but yield many benefits such as increased flexibility, toning (the smaller muscle groups that are often forgotten) and improved balance. Along with this comes a healthier mind state, again focusing on… Nutrition For Body And Mind.

A combination of both aerobic and anaerobic exercise is ideal for heart health, and reducing your risk of heart disease! Regular aerobic exercise also improves outcomes from patients who have had heart surgery. Strength training improves bone (AND HEART) strength, helps you to build muscle and stay lean. Remember, lean muscle is more metabolically active, which will simultaneously help you maintain a healthy body weight.

One small study conducted by researchers at the West Virginia University School of Medicine found that including weightlifting in an exercise routine helped to lower LDL “bad cholesterol” levels by as much as 5 percent.

For a healthy heart, you should exercise for approximately two and a half hours (150 minutes) per week at a moderate intensity. This is equivalent to 30 minutes of physical activity, 5 times per week. You can break up the 30 minutes into 10 or fifteen-minute sets and still obtain the same benefits! If you would like an added challenge, strive to exercise 75 minutes per week at a high intensity level. Don’t feel overwhelmed…you CAN do it and remember that every little bit counts! Take the stairs, jog up that hill or ride your bike…. It’s all about the choices we make that determine our future health. Treat your body right and enjoy the benefits with a strong heart later in life!

Run SelfieTo learn more fitness tips or sports nutrition advice, schedule an appointment with Courtney Walberg, Registered Dietitian, Certified Personal Trainer and Founder of Nutrition For Body And Mind. NOW is the time to make a difference….! Let me help you reach your goals!