Strengthening the Heart with Exercise

By: Ryan Ozanic, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer

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Reducing Cardiovascular Risk with Exercise

A healthier heart leads to a higher quality of life and a greater life expectancy. Unfortunately, lifestyle habits such as unhealthy eating, physical inactivity, and tobacco use increase the likelihood of cardiovascular disease (CVD). CVD is a disease that affects the heart and blood vessels and is the number one cause of death in the United States--estimated to about 610,000 people every year. The best way to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, while simultaneously working to strengthen and protect the heart, is exercise. Just like the rest of our muscles, the heart has the capability of getting stronger from physical activity and the potential of getting weaker from a sedentary life.  

The Benefits of Exercise

The main purpose of the heart is to pump blood throughout the body, supplying oxygen and nutrients to the tissues of the body while removing wastes. The condition of our heart and cardiovascular system determines how hard the heart has to work to carry out this process. Exercising regularly reduces overall stress and workload on the heart by increasing the efficiency of the entire cardiovascular system. Other benefits of exercise include improved circulation, healthier cholesterol numbers, and a decrease in blood pressure.

Set Realistic Goals  

American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Guidelines recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise five days per week or 20 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise three days per week. Moderate intensity is classified as working at 50-70% of your estimated maximum heart rate and vigorous intensity is from 70-90%. The American Heart Association (AHA) also recommends adding moderate to high intensity muscle strengthening activity (such as resistance or weights) on at least 2 of the days per week. If you are new to working out and don’t feel you can fulfill these recommendations, start with smaller goals that will help you get to these guidelines. It is important to start off slow and listen to your body. The overall goal should be to find a consistent routine that keeps you active. 

Let us Help!

Make a commitment to your heart health and come see the Good Shepherd Health and Fitness Center professionals. We can help you get started on your healthy heart plan today! Call Tim Lanenga at (847) 620-4513 to find out more!