Include Exercise to Benefit Your Heart in Your Daily Routine
SIOUX FALLS (April 1, 2012) – We’d all like to appear fit and trim on the outside – after all, isn’t this the payoff for all the hard work of exercise? Yet what’s inside is even more important – especially the pump in the middle of your chest that keeps you alive!
“All of us, no matter what our age or level of physical ability, need to be mindful of cardiovascular fitness,” said Jenni Struck, operations manager at the Avera McKennan Fitness Center, and certified personal trainer. Cardiovascular or aerobic exercise is that type of exercise that strengthens your heart and vascular system.
It can lower blood pressure, blood cholesterol and body fat – all of which are risk factors for heart disease. “There are some risk factors we cannot change, such as heredity, gender and age. But there are changeable risk factors that we can improve through exercise and diet,” Struck said.
Cardiovascular exercise should be consistent. A good goal is 30 minutes a day for five days a week, doing exercise that gets your heart rate up. Walking, jogging, swimming, bicycling, aerobics, participating in active sports, or working out on an elliptical machine are all good examples of cardiovascular exercise.
It’s fine if the 30 minutes each day are broken down into 10 or 15 minute segments – especially for people who aren’t used to being physically active. “The ultimate goal is to include 30 minutes of exercise sometime within your schedule on most days of the week,” Struck said.
Monitoring your heart rate is a good idea, to see if you’re actually achieving a benefit to your heart, Struck said. Your heart rate should reach at least 60 percent of its capacity, and up to 85 percent, with an optimum range of 70-80 percent. You can figure your maximum heart rate by taking 220 minus your age. If you’re 30 years old, your maximum heart rate is 190 beats per minute. Sixty percent of that is 114, and 80 percent is 152 beats.
Medications such as beta-blockers may make it difficult to use heart rate as a measure. You can also measure your activity using a perceived exertion scale. For example, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the hardest possible exertion, you should exercise between a five and seven, in the range of “somewhat hard.” “Exercise should not be hard to get a benefit, but you do want to push a little out of your comfort zone,” Struck said.
If you’re not able to carry on a conversation while exercising, you’re probably working too hard. On the other hand, if you’re able to sing while exercising, you’re probably not working hard enough, she added.
If you’re not in the habit of exercising, begin with easier activities such as walking, Struck said. “Don’t begin with a goal of running for 30 minutes seven days a week. Start out with smaller goals, and build from there. You can always exceed your goal, but if you set your goal too lofty, you’ll feel like you’ve failed if you don’t reach or maintain your goal.”
Don’t choose an activity that’s not enjoyable to you. “Everyone needs to find his or her own individual niche. If you find what you like, you’re more apt to do it,” Struck said. Also, don’t choose to do your workout at a time that’s not suitable for your lifestyle. “If you’re not a morning person, don’t try to exercise at 5:30 a.m. You’re less likely to stick with your program.”
For lasting benefit, cardiovascular exercise needs to become a habit. “The hardest part is getting started, if it’s not part of your life now. It needs to be like brushing your teeth – an activity of daily living,” Struck said. “Daily exercise should be just as important as any other appointment on your calendar.”
To learn more go to www.AveraMcKennanFitness.org