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  • Writer's pictureCheryl Patella

What Is The BEST Way To Strengthen My Heart?

Updated: Mar 30

In the past we were told to do training for cardiovascular strengthening for our heart: walking, running, tennis, racquetball, and basketball.  But for how long and how often?  We were told to train in our “zone” – our target heart range.  How do I know what my “zone” is?

ZONE=220 minus age then calculate: beginners 60% (just starting out) of that number; intermediate 70% (been exercising regularly 6 months or so); advanced 80% (been a regular exerciser well over a year). Recently it has been reported by ACSM and other health regulating agencies that to be healthy we need 75 minutes of vigorous exercise weekly.  That’s 15 to 20 minutes a day weekly depending on how many days a week you exercise.  Doesn’t sound like much and it makes it much more appealing.  This should be a priority in your life for without your health you really have nothing.  Especially if you have specific goals such as strengthening your heart muscle-particularly if you are predisposed to heart disease genetically or want to lose weight and reduce visceral fat which is the fat that wraps itself around your organs in your torso.  Or maybe you just want to take a step towards prevention and avoid the problems that come with being unhealthy.

The past few years research has indicated training of the heart is best when you do short bursts of challenging your cardio system.  Also known as high intensity interval training.  Let’s say you ride the bike for 20 minutes at a specific level after your warmup and just stay at that level for most of your 20 minutes.  How can your heart get stronger if it’s not being challenged?  Instead after your warmup do 5 minutes into your training level and then step it up to the next level for 30 seconds returning to your training level for two minutes.  Continue doing this until it is no longer challenging then drop the return to only one minute resulting in 1 minute intervals of 30 second challenges.  Don’t advance too quickly.  It should be doable but challenging. Proceed with this until it is no longer challenging then step it up to 1 minute at the challenging level and two minutes back at your training level.  And so on.  Eventually you will keep moving up one level and begin this same process continuing to challenge yourself to greater health and a stronger heart. By the way cardio training can be any activity that increases circulation and breathing.  With my clients I often have them do intervals on their spin bike; or variations of jump rope; or variations and mixes with sit and stand. There are so many new ways of exerting yourself in fitness these days: jump rope, stair climbing, dancing – whatever you choose step it up for intervals that allows your heart to get stronger and you to become healthier!  Happy heart training!

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