February is more than just waiting on Valentine’s Day to get here…indulging in chocolates, roses and romantic dinners.
February is “heart awareness” month! Since so many of us just started an exercise program in January…right? Let’s take a look at how moderate exercise benefits the heart.
Cardiovascular exercise involves the use of large muscles in a repetitive fashion, activating muscle fibers programmed for endurance and utilizing a heart rate range anywhere from 40 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. Think: running, jogging, swimming, biking, or spinning.
Cardio training teaches the heart (over time) to handle larger volumes of blood and push more blood out thru the body with fewer beats of the heart.
This is how you develop a lower resting heart rate…this equates to less work on our heart which is our most valuable muscle.
Strength training is also important for a healthy heart. As the muscles contract—say the arm muscles during a bicep curl—they press and close the blood vessels that flow through them. This leads to increased blood pressure in the rest of the body and the heart has to fight against a stronger force to push blood out.
The heart adapts to this by increasing the thickness of the left ventricle wall. This thickness derived from chronic weight training is healthy, whereas the thickness from chronic high blood pressure is not.
What’s the difference? The healthy heart only has to work under pressure for two to three hours of strength training per week, whereas the heart with high blood pressure has to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The second heart may exhaust, whereas the healthy heart becomes stronger with a lower resting heart rate.
No matter what changes in the world around us…the fact that all of us need to exercise for our health never changes. The sooner you start the better. If you have never really had an exercise routine…it’s not to late.
Get outside and walk, play tennis or golf, hire a trainer, take yoga, learn Foundation Training, ride a bike take a hike….whatever!