A guest post from our friends at Sport&Health Club
A sedentary lifestyle is one of the 5 major risk factors (along with high blood pressure, abnormal values for blood lipids, smoking, and obesity) for cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association. Physical activity is key to preventing heart disease and strokes, the nation’s No. 1 and No. 5 killers.
Here are a few workouts that will give you some amazing heart-health and strength building benefits!
While any activity boasts heart-health benefits, interval training is an amazing way to get your blood pumping. Alternate between high intensity intervals and periods of rest or slower paces work – think treadmill sprints followed by a brisk walking break. Be sure you’re working hard enough to get out of breath and then take whatever rest period is necessary to recover. Continuously raising and lowering your heart rate forces the blood to pump a lot harder. In addition to burning tons of calories, it makes the body more efficient at clearing fat and sugar from the bloodstream.
If you’ve never taken your cardio workout to the pool, you’re missing out! Try progressing from 6-10 lengths of the pool, trying out different strokes with each workout. Work your chest and back with alternating laps of back crawl and breaststroke. Or try alternating laps of flutter kicks and the front crawl for an amazing upper/lower body workout.
In addition to building muscle mass, strength training has an incredible impact on bone health and your heart. Over time, your muscles will more efficiently be able to handle the demands placed upon them, easing the burden on your heart. New to strength training? Begin with your own body weight – just be sure that you’re incorporating proper progression over time. In addition to simply adding more weight, you can adjust the tempo of your movements to up the intensity. Once you master 10-12 repetitions of a movement, try challenging yourself by slowing down the movement for an extra burn.
Want a more gentle approach to gaining strength and toning muscles? Yoga and Pilates get the job done and also provide amazing heart-health benefits, including lowering blood pressure, boosting circulation, increasing lung capacity and improving respiratory function and heart rate. And bonus – you’ll leave class feeling more relaxed and ready to tackle the day.
According to a study recently done by the British Medical Association, regular cycling can reduce risk for coronary heart disease by 50%. Cycling uses the largest muscle groups in the legs to elevate heart rate, boosting fitness and stamina. Try a group cycle class for a fun, interval-based workout or simply hop on a bike at the club for a 20-30 ride!
Ultimately, it’s important to find an activity or training style that you enjoy and will stick to. For those looking to lower blood pressure or cholesterol, the American Heart Association recommends 40 minutes of aerobic exercise of moderate to vigorous intensity three to four times a week to lower the risk for a heart attack or stroke. For more information, visit sportandhealth.com.