10 Fab Fitness Tips for a Healthy Heart

16th Feb 2014 / By Guest Contributor

While many hearts are still aflutter from Valentine’s Day, there’s another reason to pay attention to your heart this February: it’s American Heart Month, which is dedicated to raising awareness of heart disease, the number one killer of both women and men in the United States. Heart disease causes 1 in 3 women’s deaths each year, affecting people of any age, race, or socioeconomic class. The good news is that there is something you can do about it.

Many of the risk factors for heart disease are preventable and controllable. In fact, one of the biggest factors in preventing heart disease is leading a healthy lifestyle, which includes getting plenty of exercise! Physical activity not only keeps your waistline slim and trim, helping you maintain a healthy weight, it also helps strengthen your heart and cardiovascular system. So show your heart a little love with these fabulous fitness tips:

  1. Go for 30. Experts recommend that you get 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day about five times a week, totaling 150 minutes. Alternately, you can do vigorous exercise totaling 75 minutes per week. Whether it’s taking a class on your lunch break or hitting the gym after work, scheduling in exercise is the best way to meet your weekly requirements.
  2. Walk it out. A brisk walk is a great way to get your blood flowing. Maintaining a speed of 3 to 4 miles per hour for about 30-60 minutes at least five days a week can cut your risk of heart disease by 40%!
  3. Run around. Slightly more challenging than walking, yes, but running is another heart-healthy way to get your exercise. Best of all, running requires no equipment and can be done almost anywhere. And if you’re looking to lose weight, it’s also one of the best ways to burn calories!
  4. Eat it. Sure, it’s not technically a fitness tip, but eating a healthy, nutritious diet is also a huge part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Aim for whole, unprocessed foods, healthy fruits and vegetables, and plenty of water – especially important when you’re exercising.
  5. Rate your heart. A heart rate monitor is a great tool in tracking how effective your workout is. You gain the most heart-healthy benefits when you work out in your target heart rate zone, which is typically 60-80% of your maximum heart rate. Calculate your predicted maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. For example, if you’re 28: 220-28 = 192.
  6. Get wet. Swimming, surfing, and water aerobics are all great ways to get your heart rate up while staying cool. As an added bonus, many people find the water easier to move in, making it a perfect solution for those with joint issues.
  7. Pump iron. Okay, so you don’t actually have to pump iron, but strength training of any kind not only builds strong muscles and bones, it can also be a great tool in maintaining heart health! Plus, it increases lean body mass and boosts your metabolism. Body weight training, like push-ups, are a great place to start.
  8. Cycle in. Cycling studios have been making a huge comeback, and for good reason! Cycling is not only fun, it’s great form of cardio. In fact, regular cycling has been proven to lower the incidence of heart disease.
  9. HIIT it. High-intensity interval training, a.k.a. HIIT, is a form of cardio where you alternate bursts of high-interval training with shorter periods of low- to moderate-intensity recovery (e.g. 30 seconds of sprinting with 30 seconds of brisk walking). HIIT gets your heart pumping and boosts your metabolism, helping your body to burn calories even after the workout is done.
  10. Try Tabata. Similar to HIIIT, with Tabata you do an exercise a maximum intensity for 20 seconds, and then follow it with 10 seconds of rest. The pattern is repeated eight times, making one complete Tabata round only four minutes long – quick and effective!

What’s your favorite way to work out your heart? Let me know in the comments. Happy American Heart Month!

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