Do you have the heart for it?
The most important muscle in your body may not be what you think. Any guesses?
If you said, "the heart" then DING DING DING! Gold star for you today.
Your heart is the star of your cardiovascular system. BTW, the cardiovascular system, or circulatory system, delivers oxygen and nutrients to cells and takes away wastes.
Did you know that cardiovascular exercise is intended specifically to increase your heart health, and that those higher heart rate zones (think 80-95% of your max heart rate) are strictly for cardiovascular health and not really for burning fat? If you're only working in the lower heart rate zones (think 65-80% of your max heart rate) then you're not getting the full benefit of true cardiovascular training.
But, we know we want to get both training benefits, right? We want to burn excess fat & keep our heart healthy (for a myriad of reasons we will get to in a minute). How can we achieve that?
HIIT Training is a great one that does both! Intervals that get your heart rate up and back down while keeping it above recovery heart rate (above 60%) checks both boxes.
Tabata workouts can improve your athletic performance, increase your VO2 max (trainer talk for lung capacity & performance) and all around cardiovascular endurance.
Steady state cardio like long runs, water rower workouts, and a challenging but doable ride on your bike (indoor spin or outside on the road) can help with burning fat.
Mix it up and do a little bit of both to reap the benefits of all the heart rate zone training - your heart will thank you for it.
WHY? Heart health matters. Do you have any family history of heart issues? Genetics can influence the risk for heart disease as genes control every aspect of the cardiovascular system. Genetic testing can identify the mutation in the DNA responsible for the heart condition.
Red flag familial characteristics:
- Sudden cardiac arrest
- Diagnosis of heart failure before age 50.
- Unexplained fainting episodes or abnormal heart rhythm at a young age.
- More than one relative with same type of heart disease.
The great news is that lifestyle changes can reduce your chance of getting heart disease.
Control your blood pressure & cholesterol. Stay at a health weight & eat a healthy diet rich in plants & quality protein. Exercising regularly, managing your stress, decreasing alcohol intake & not smoking are all INCREDIBLY helpful ways to stay well. And, getting plenty of sleep gives your body a chance to recuperate and restore itself.
Take care of your heart now, and it will keep you going for a lot longer.