American Heart Month: Let’s Move!!
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This is American Heart Month! There are a lot of things that affect the health of our hearts. Our eating habits, physical activity/exercise, alcohol consumption, smoking habits, environment, and stress levels all contribute to heart health. Usually, food and nutrition are emphasized as well as exercise in the form of cardio, but musculoskeletal in the form of resistance training is not really emphasized. Most people associate resistance training with putting on muscle mass or getting stronger, but never really associate it with having a healthier heart. I want to point out a few things that I have observed over the years according to experience and research.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been shown to be beneficial with weight loss but not only that. It is beneficial for the heart and this stems from the intensity of the workout that is typical of this type of training. HIIT tends to raise the heart rate and keep you moving the whole time which really incorporates the heart and lungs. The more work the heart does over time, the more it develops more capillaries and vessels for blood flow which may result in a stronger heart. Remember that the heart is a muscle and the more exercise it receives the stronger and more efficient it becomes. This can lead to an increased stroke volume which essentially means an increased amount of blood that the left ventricle of the heart will pump. Also, your VO2 Max will increase without having to run or bike long distances which is the custom of most who want to improve their VO2 max.
A few ways that you can raise the intensity is by raising the speed at which you lift and incorporating compound movements such as a thruster or simply a squat with a push press as you come out of the squat. A simple squat jump or burpee will do the trick as well. These movements are not only done quickly which raises the heart rate but they incorporate multiple body parts which makes the body work harder. You can start with a simple circuit that includes compound exercises the move to the “Every Minute on the Minute” and “As Many Reps as Possible” workouts once you are ready for a challenge. Increasing the weight can also increase the rate at which the heart works especially when coupled with an increased tempo.
Last but not least remember to breathe. Breathing involves the lungs and allows you to gather the oxygen for your blood which also involves the heart pumping the oxygenated blood to your body parts. Proper breathing means inhaling upon the loading phase and then exhaling on the exertion phase which moves the load. For example, on the push-up exercise, you will need to inhale upon lowering yourself and then exhale as you push yourself up. This allows you to work more efficiently and gathers the oxygen you need in order to supply the muscles and slows down the lactic acid buildup.
Try this quick workout circuit to get your heart elevated.
4 rounds (20 seconds rest after each exercise)
- push-ups for 45 seconds
- squat jumps for 45 seconds
- Plank for 30 seconds
- Jumping jacks for 45 seconds