by Matt Weik
Those who exercise regularly generally do it for weight management reasons. Many forget how important it is to train in such a way that it improves cardiovascular functioning (heart health). Heart disease is our nation’s number one killer and is something many of us can prevent. For that reason, I’m going to outline a few very important concepts we all need to know, remember, and implement in order to improve heart health.
1. 150 minutes is all you need
You don’t need to run a marathon or exercise for hours every day just to improve heart health. In fact, if you exercise Monday through Friday (five days a week) for 30 minutes each day, you’re going to hit the recommended duration for heart health benefits – allowing you to enjoy the weekend without worrying about fitting in a workout. In addition, due to the fact that you’re moving and increasing your heart rate, you are going to burn calories and help maintain a proper healthy weight.
2. Fit in exercise whenever you can
You live a hectic and extremely busy life. And because of this, you might give the old excuse that you don’t have time to exercise each day. That’s a lie and you’re only fooling yourself. We all get a lunch break. Many sit in front of the television for hours each night. Some spend hours scrolling through social media during the day. While it’s true that you need 30 minutes of daily exercise, that doesn’t mean it needs to be completed all at once. If you have 10-minutes here or 15-minutes there, it still counts. You can get away with three 10-minute walks during the day or push for two 15-minute walks in order to meet your daily requirements. Fit them in where you see openings in your day and you’ll be able to easily hit your 30-minute goal. Just make sure your segments are no shorter than 10-minutes each.
3. Find an activity you enjoy
I’m commonly told a reason why someone doesn’t exercise or do any form of cardiovascular training is because they don’t find it enjoyable. Well, I can’t blame them for not doing an activity that they don’t like. But, that’s not a good excuse to be sedentary and do nothing. Find an activity you enjoy. If you love sports, go play a pickup game of basketball. Or if you enjoy tennis, grab a buddy and hit your local tennis court. You don’t need to be confined to just what’s available at the gym. A treadmill isn’t enjoyable for everyone. Neither is a bike or elliptical. Maybe swimming is your thing? Grab your trunks and hit the local pool or join a gym that has a pool. They key is to work your cardiovascular training around activities that you enjoy.
4. Stop taking shortcuts
Any chance you get to fit in some extra movement or steps throughout the day, you should. This means stop circling the parking lot in search for the closest spot – park in the back of the lot and walk. Rather than taking the elevator or escalator, take the stairs. Rather than typing out a long email to someone in the office next to you, get up from your desk and walk over to their office and ask them the question – this will also get you your answer quicker.
5. Hire a personal trainer
Many people aren’t sure how to start an exercise program. Their doctor keeps harping on them about health risks due to their lifestyle, but taking that first step seems to be the hardest. Cut your time in half by hiring a personal trainer at your local gym, or finding someone who is qualified (certified and has a college degree in kinesiology or exercise physiology) and can work with you online. Rather than going at this alone and trying to find your way, allow them to help you and get you the results desired at a faster pace. In addition, working with a personal trainer will keep you accountable and less likely to fall off the wagon and back to your old poor habits.
6. Join a class
With many different offerings at local gyms, there’s bound to be a class you’ll enjoy. It’ll be a nice change from the normal routine. BodyPump, spinning, Zumba, boot camp, water aerobics, boxing/kickboxing, step classes, and many more. Some people prefer being in an environment where they are surrounded by others with common goals. Everyone there tends to motivate each other. A class such as the ones mentioned here are great ways to get your heart rating elevated, improve heart health, and reduce the risk of heart disease.
*Before starting any exercise program, speak with your doctor and get approval to ensure you are healthy enough to engage in such activities.