By Joli Guenther, MSSW, NASM
February is American Heart Health Month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, but a positive lifestyle, including regular use of your home fitness equipment, can go a long way towards preventing the 2200 deaths per day caused by heart disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently launched their Million Hearts national initiative with the goal of preventing one million heart attacks by the end of 2016. Keep reading for the latest research on exercise and heart health to help prevent heart disease in your life and the lives of your family.
Caring for your Heart Condition? If you've experienced a heart attack or heart disease, you can significantly improve your future health through exercise. According to current research, "Participation in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity at least three times per week was associated with a much lower risk of cardiovascular-related death. Physically active participants demonstrated significantly lower levels of body mass, diabetes and inflammatory risk." Talk with your doctor to determine the appropriate intensity for your workouts, working up to using your treadmill, elliptical, or exercise bike for 30 minutes three times per week. Although the majority of health related benefits will occur by reaching this level of activity, you will reap even greater weight loss benefits by working up to longer daily workouts.
Short on Time? If daily workout recommendations seem daunting, there's good news. Current research shows that you can significantly improve your heart health by participating in vigorous exercise just three times per week, a level of participation that reduces men's risk of heart attack by 22 percent. According to the article, “We studied vigorous exercise because of its stronger association with coronary heart disease… The benefits of exercise on a man’s levels of HDL-C, or ‘good’ cholesterol, account for approximately 38 percent of that decrease. Other important markers included vitamin D, apolipoprotein B and hemoglobin A1c.” If you're already using your home fitness equipment regularly, step up your workouts by using the aerobic or interval training settings (available on most Horizon fitness equipment products) to ensure you're getting the most from your three hours per week.
Fitness Enthusiast? For experienced exercisers, interval training may be the most efficient way to improve your heart health. "Intervals boost your heart's stroke volume as well as its efficiency... participants in a 2010 study in the International Journal of Sports Medicine saw an average improvement of 23 percent in stroke volume and a 17 percent increase in VO2 max", lowering your risk for metabolic and heart diseases. Your home fitness equipment may already come with a preset intervals training program that will eliminate the guess work from your workout. New approaches to intervals involve alternating intense cardio with periods of high intensity resistance training. "According to a 2010 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, weightlifting may improve blood flow throughout your extremities, which eases your heart's workload." Use your treadmill, elliptical or exercise bike as part of a cardio circuit, alternating with low or no equipment resistance exercises, such as push-ups, squats and lunges.
Weigh In: Does reducing your risk for or recovering from heart disease impact your motivation for working out at home?