How to stay heart healthy.

Heart disease continues to top the list of diseases in the United States. It is the number one killer among women. What are you doing for your heart right now? In addition to clean eating, people need to engage in regular aerobic exercise to elevate the heart rate and reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease.
If you currently perform resistance training, that will help strengthen the heart by thickening the walls of the heart, but it is also essential to increase the heart's capacity (size) to move and circulate blood. This adaptation is brought about by targeted aerobic activity. Understanding how to calculate target heart rate ranges for exercise seems like a daunting task for many.

Historically, people have subtracted their age from 220 to determine the maximum heart rate. From there, they would multiply that number by .6 and .8 to set a target heart rate range. There is a more accurate method known as the Karvonen formula which takes into account your resting heart rate, as fitter people may be able to work at a much higher rate than sedentary individuals.

The most important message is simply to move more and elevate the heart rate in the beginning. Measuring perceived exertion is another key guideline when exercising. On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the hardest) you should strive to work between a 6 and 8 most of the time for ideal results. In regard to heart rate, I recommend using a simple Polar heart rate monitor or checking your pulse for 15 seconds and multiply by 4 to get a reading.

Effective forms of cardio include swimming, cycling, walking, running, spinning, rowing, dancing and low impact aerobics, to name a few. True cardiovascular exercise is continuous and lasts longer than 3 minutes without cessation. As you get fitter, it will take increasing effort to elevate the heart rate to your desired work zone. Just be sure to slow down or stop if you feel faint, lightheaded or dizzy.

If you seek a combination or strength training and cardiovascular work, you may want to enroll in a circuit based training program. These programs are often offered by facilities in the form of boot camp or group exercise classes. The emphasis is on working the whole body utilizing different movements with very little rest throughout the course of the class. The average caloric expenditure in a boot camp class typically ranges between 400 800 calories.

Fit kids
A recent study in the Journal of School Health revealed that kids between the ages of 9 and 13 who passed more PE tests also did better on standardized testing and are more productive in school. As a parent myself, I was glad to read that. Parents need to model an active lifestyle to promote lifelong health for children. No gym membership? No worries. Here are five easy exercises you and your child can do to improve heart health and fitness:

Body weight chair squats Jumping jacks Jog in place Mountain climbers Speed skater
Perform these five exercises in a mini-circuit in any sequence for 30 seconds each. Rest for 60-90 seconds between each circuit and repeat the sequence two to three times. The entire workout takes no more than 12 minutes to complete.