February is American Heart Month, a great time to assess how you are caring for this important muscle. The efficiency of the heart will greatly affect the quality of your life, either adding to or subtracting energy from your day.
According to the American Heart Association, 69 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. Obesity strains the heart, putting it into a state of overexertion, like towing a trailer that is too heavy for your vehicle. Obesity is connected to high blood pressure, which contributes to heart disease. With heart disease listed as the Number One killer in America, it is critically important to take seriously the health of your heart, putting together a program that challenges the heart, thereby making it stronger. All that is required is a baseline level of knowledge, a good pair of athletic shoes, a water bottle and a commitment!
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends Americans practice 150 minutes per week of cardiovascular exercise. This is very doable, even with a busy schedule. A 30-minute morning walk five days per week will suffice. The important goal for this workout is to move big muscles (ideally, the lower body) consistently for a period of time to bring the heart rate up into a range that forces it to become stronger. When you exercise, take note of how hard you are breathing and where your exertion falls on a scale of 0-10. As exercise professionals, we strive to assist participants in four key areas of cardiovascular programming, following the FITT acronym:
Frequency: How many days per week are needed for improvement/maintenance?
Intensity: How hard do I have to work to produce a training effect?
Time: How many minutes do I need to exercise to gain endurance?
Type: What type of exercise is right for me (walking, biking, swimming, hiking, etc.)?
Once you have checked with your doctor to ensure you are safe to start a program, consider seeking the guidance and support of a professional who can keep you safely progressing. Do not forget to enjoy the journey, and remember: Fitness now or illness later; the choice is yours!
Hope to see you on the trail! QCBN
By Lisa Fry
Lisa Fry is the Health & Fitness Director for Touchmark at The Ranch. Her responsibilities include overseeing the Touchmark Health & Fitness Club. Membership is open to anyone 50 years and older. To reach Fry or for more information, call 928-708-3133.