A healthy heart is without doubt the most important muscle you need for good health and exercise is a great way to obtain it so it is wise to
Know how exercise helps maintain a healthy heart and how it prevents heart attacks.
Know why traditional cardio exercise is not necessarily the best option.
Know how to keep your metabolism high for hours after finishing your exercise program
Know why circuit training can burn fat like no other form of training.
The majority of people who start an exercise program do so to improve their appearance by building muscle, losing weight or a combination of the two and there is also a minority of people who exercise with the specific aim of improving their ability in their chosen sport.
What ever gets you training is great in my opinion so there is nothing wrong with training for these reasons, but what you should also remember are the benefits a solid exercise program will have on keeping your heart healthy and the importance this plays in your general well-being.
Regular exercise improves the heart because it is a muscle and just like all muscles if you exercise it regularly it becomes stronger, and a strong healthy heart is probably the single most important factor in preventing disease – In fact it can literally save your life and you can ask no more of any muscle than that.
The reason exercise works to keep your heart healthy is because when you train your heart is required to work harder than normal and therefore pumps more oxygen filled blood throughout your body. This improves your circulation and helps to keep all of your organs and muscles healthy.
The result is your heart becomes stronger and therefore less susceptible to disease which is a great benefit on its own but it gets even better than that because regular exercise will also lower your resting heart rate meaning that it doesn’t have to work as hard to do its job and just like a machine the less it has to work the longer it will last.
If that sounds great just consider for a moment that a very fit athlete can achieve a resting heart rate of 45-50 beats per minute whilst a normal person of the same age will have a resting heart beat of 70 – 75 beats per minute. As you can see the athlete’s heart only has to do two thirds of the work of an average personS which helps maintain a healthy heart.
The more research that is done the more scientists are realizing that the worst thing you can do to for a healthy heart is nothing at all because the fact is, a sedentary life style is a major cause of heart disease and heart attacks. So when it comes to your heart it is a classic case of use it or lose it and you only have to look at the statistics of America to confirm this.
The sedentary or inactive life style that has swept the country has led to heart attacks and coronary disease becoming the number one cause of death and disability in the United States but the sad thing is it doesn’t have to happen if people would only get of their backsides and become more active.
For instance, did you know that a good exercise program will reduce your chances of having a heart attack by as much as 45%? And you also have the other health benefits of exercise to take into consideration such as the reduced risk of developing diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure as well as preventing many other horrible diseases.
So you can see the importance of having a healthy heart and how exercise is crucial to achieving this.
The question that remains is which type of exercise is the best way of improving the condition of your heart and respiratory system? The answer is not as straight forward as one might think because as always in life there are different opinions from different camps.
Some experts say that the best way to achieve a healthy heart is to do some form of aerobic activity at a certain pace for 30 minutes at least four times a week. In fact this has been the standard advice for many years and it is true to a certain extent.
However, some research suggests that this is not the best method for a healthy heart because it will not enable you to maintain a high metabolism for very long after you have finished doing your exercise and you will also lose muscle mass if this is the only training you do.
So what does metabolism and muscle mass have to do with my heart? Well if your metabolism stays higher for a longer period after training like it does with circuit training for example, then you will burn more fat and the less fat you have, the less your heart will have to work to lug you around. The reason muscle mass is important is because the more muscle you have the more calories you will burn to maintain it meaning once again that you will carry less fat.
But this is not the end of the debate because other experts are of the opinion that exercising for short bursts of high intensity followed by short bursts of low intensity such as sprinting for a certain distance, and then gently jogging whist your heart slows down and then sprinting again, is a better way of exercising the heart simply because for a short period your heart has to work a lot harder than it could for a sustained time such as 30 minutes.
The experts who recommend this type of training say the result is a heart that can handle short periods of intense demand when necessary which is a more realistic requirement for every day life. They also say this type of training will keep your metabolism high for many hours after you have finished exercising and so burn more calories.
We are still not finished though because another type of training some say is the best for a healthy heart is circuit training were you go from one exercise to another without stopping, for example, doing a set of press ups then a set of squats then a set of pull ups then a set of squat thrusts and so on. The reasons they give for circuit training being a superior form of exercise is because not only are you maintaining a more or less constant high heart rate, but you are also exercising most of the muscles of your body at the same time which will stop you from losing muscle mass and so burn more fat than the traditional 30 minutes of steady paced cardio.
And finally there is one more type of training that some recommend for a healthy heart and that is traditional progressive weight training with the usual 3 or 4 sets of 10 reps for each exercise.
The reasons given for this being the best type of training for a healthy heart are basic weight training builds up the muscles around the chest and this can help prevent certain heart diseases such as angina, the short bursts of rapid heart rate followed by a minutes rest is good for accustoming your heart to work at a rapid pace if necessary and finally weight training will maintain and build muscle mass which helps control your weight because as mentioned before the more muscle you have the more calories you need to feed it.
So there you have it, as you can see not everybody agrees on the best way to maintain a healthy heart and there are many options to choose from. If you are wondering which is the best type of training for you I would ask you to remember the following points.
The first thing to keep in mind is any exercise is better than none at all, so it is a case of horses for courses. What ever type of exercise you enjoy the most is the one you should do simply because the more fun you have doing it the more likely you are to keep at it
Also be realistic, if you are young and fit there is no reason why you should not do what ever type of training you want. If you are in your late 30s or 40s you can still do the type of training you prefer but you should take things very gradually and build up the intensity of your training very slowly. Remember, if you try to do too much to soon you will almost certainly injure yourself which will either hamper your training or discourage you from continuing, so remember with small steps you can climb mountains.
Finally, if you are in your 50s, 60s or even more mature than you should still exercise, in fact even more so than a younger person but you must be realistic. You are not going to be able to do circuit training with the same intensity as a younger person but you don’t need to because you will benefit by doing what you are safely capable of and staying within those limits.
The plague of heart attacks and respiratory disease that is rife in many western countries need not happen if people follow the advice of those involved in the medical and health professions. It is a fact that living a sedentary life style is a disaster for a healthy heart and you need to be active what ever your age.
What type of exercise you do is up to you, a combination of some resistance training to maintain muscle mass and some aerobic exercise to get your heart working harder and pumping some oxygen full blood around the body is probably the best advice, but keep in mind anything from gardening to dancing is better than no exercise at all. So it comes down to personal choice, do what makes you happy, but do something – it could save your life.