By Elizabeth Phinney
Certainly in this day and age, you have heard the expression, “come from your heart and not your head.” The symbol of love is a heart. “We ‘heart’ New York” is the state’s slogan. When we point to ourselves, we typically point directly to our heart.
What is it about the heart that makes it so sentimental? So much a symbol of our emotions? A symbol of who we are?
Perhaps, because when it stops functioning, we die within a very short period of time. We need the heart to pump blood throughout our body, which carries all the nutrients and oxygen to our various organs and tissues so that they, too, may survive and thrive. It is the one organ that is literally connected to all the others because of this flow of blood. When the heart is mal-nourished or sickly, it cannot function at its peak potential. This, unfortunately, is what happens to over 30% of the American population who have been diagnosed with heart disease. And, the saddest part of all is that 80% of these diagnosis are preventable.
If your chances of dying of heart disease are most likely preventable, why is it the number one killer of men and women? These facts are directly related to the obesity epidemic we have in this country, and growing throughout the world. We literally are what we eat and what we are eating is simply not good for us. Therefore, to dramatically reduce your odds of a heart disease diagnosis, you need to maintain a reasonable weight for your height. Eating more vegetables rather than simple carbohydrates found in flour and sugar will certainly help with this plan. Reducing your meat consumption and increasing your fish as protein will also help. The most important thing to remember is that the options are available to you for healthier choices for your heart, but it is up to you to make the commitment to yourself to make those choices.
An important fact we often forget about the heart is that it is a muscle. As with all muscles, it needs to be exercised to be strong and stay strong. And, don’t forget that when we lose ½ lb. of muscle tissue every year beginning in our early 30’s, (see Trade Secrets, April article on “No More Stiff Joints!”) the heart as a muscle is in that loss.
Aerobic exercise is the best way to keep your heart muscle strong for decades to come. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, the foremost authority in the fitness industry, aerobic exercise should be done a minimum of 5 times per week, getting your heart in your own “moderate intensity aerobic zone” for a minimum of 30 continuous minutes each time. Or, for the more vigorous exerciser, 3 times per week for a minimum of 25 minutes in your more vigorous zone. If you need to lose weight, the suggestion is 50 – 60 minutes per day.
If you are just beginning, start slow for shorter times. Then, first increase the duration before you increase the intensity. Build up to where you want to be. To determine your moderate vs. intensive heart rate, take your resting heart rate (RHR) before you get out of bed in the morning for 3 mornings to get an average. (Either on your wrist or on the carotid artery, count the number of times your heart beats straight visit this web-site where can i buy cheap viagra in the uk for an entire minute.) Then impose the average RHR in this formula: 220 – your age – your RHR = X. Now multiply X by 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%. To each number you get, add your RHR back on to it. Then, the numbers in the 50% – 60% range are considered your moderate targets. 70% – 80% are your more vigorous ranges. That means, when you are exercising, you take your heart rate after 10 minutes to see how many times per minute your heart is beating. (For this check, just count for 10 seconds and multiply by 6.) That will tell you to either slow down or go faster. You want to check your heart rate every 10 minutes or so, or, better yet, invest in a heart rate monitor!
As for what kind of exercise to do for aerobic exercise, there are many to choose from. Walking is a great way to start, just make sure that your pace is giving you enough of a workout and that your heart is pumping in your preferred range. Running is not recommended unless you are not overweight at all and you begin by walking fast and getting your body into the mechanics of running before you try it. Injury is too easy when you are running and your body isn’t ready to do it. Otherwise, if you research “kinds of aerobic exercises” on the Internet, you will be presented with a multitude of choices.
The thing is, you need to find something that you enjoy doing or you simply won’t do it. Remember, aerobic exercise along with healthy food choices will help your heart and your body get and stay much healthier and stronger for years to come.