Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of Americans; approximately one in every four deaths in the United States is related to heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As the boomer population ages, medical resources have strained to keep up with the need for cardiovascular intervention. Americans suffer from poor diet, low activity levels and unregulated stress levels, all contributing to the heart health crisis. While this sounds very scary, we can all take simple steps to prevent our becoming a statistic.
Physical activity is a simple and productive means to keep your heart healthy. Cardiovascular activity is the best way to help your heart. Walking, swimming, and biking are all cardio exercises that can be low intensity for the joints while getting your heart pumping.
- Walking is a great exercise due to convenience. You can simply go around your neighborhood or head to a local park. For something more challenging, pick a location that has varied terrain. This will get your heart rate up faster and provide a mental stimulus to keep the walk more interesting.
- Swimming is a low-impact method of exercise that will allow you to get your heart rate up while not aggravating your knees or hips. You can do this one of several ways: lap swimming, water walking or water aerobics. Check with your local pool for class listings and times to make the activity more social.
- Biking can be done outside or in a gym, it just depends on how adventurous you want to be. If you are having trouble with your balance or joints, try a recumbent bike that sits the user in a more reclined position than a standard bike, similar to sitting back in a chair. This bike is more comfortable for those suffering from hip or knee issues.
Before jumping in to a new cardio exercise regimen, determine your maximum heart rate to prevent yourself from pushing your heart too hard. This heart rate should not be exceeded.
- 220 – your age = your Maximum Heart Rate
Knowing your maximum heart rate, you can calculate your aerobic zone, which is 70 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. The aerobic zone is the ideal heart rate for weight management and improving cardiovascular fitness.
The American Heart Association suggests completing 20 to 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity with your heart rate in the aerobic zone four to six times a week. Before beginning a cardio regimen, consult a physician. In addition, a personal trainer or fitness professional can help you get started in a healthy and safe method that is tailored to your specific needs.
As you progress, continue to consult a healthcare professional who can provide specialized advice for your current health and condition. Also seek nutritional advice from your doctor or a nutritionist, as nutrition goes hand in hand with regular exercise in keeping our hearts healthy.
Kyle Ciminski is a personal trainer at the Fidalgo Pool & Fitness Center in Anacortes. He holds more than 30 professional certifications, and you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 360.969.1386. Learn more at trainwithkyle.com.