Improving one’s cardiovascular health can feel a bit like a leap of faith into a nebulous void inside a vacuous hole whilst blindfolded. Alright, maybe I’m overstating, and it’s not that daunting, but think about it! We can’t even see this muscle in the mirror, and all the changes at the blood/vascular level are too abstract to grasp (and involve big words like capillarization, vascularization, angiogenesis, and mitochondrial biogenesis to name a few – impressed yet?!). All you need to know is that your blood and oxygen ‘plumbing’ constantly gets upgraded when you do cardio, meaning better blood flow, more oxygen when you need it, and less huff and puff doing things! Therefore, we must persevere in this matter and lean heavily on the advice of our cardiologists, physicians, and friendly neighbourhood exercise physiologists (me). For the truly converted heart health dogmatist, you will know what I mean! You have invested in this vital organ and noticed more energy, performance, and overall well-being. If you ask my heart healthiest clients, they will tell you they can burst upstairs with minimal effort, carry on conversations on long walks with ease, play most of their favourite sports with little trouble, and keep up with their kids and grandkids. Medically, they have normal blood pressure readings (~120/70 mmHg), optimized HDL (good cholesterol), and a healthy resting heart rate (~60 to 70 bpm).
How did they do it? They are many, the paths to optimal heart health (said my Yoda-like fitness mentor). However, I would say the common theme is they found something active they love and did THAT! Dancing, golfing, weight training, walking, pickleball, etc. Any movement at all has merit for our hearts. Try and move for at least 10 minutes at a time and do that 2 to 3 times per day. Then try and do that 4 to 5 times per week – accumulating 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity i.e. increased breathing and light sweating. Once you are ready to branch out, try and build into your 150 something more intense. For everyone this is different. For example, stairs… one at a time, every 2nd or even 3rd, walking up, jogging up, sprinting up, etc., all of these will elicit different responses from different people. Find that thing that challenges you a bit and experiment. Personally, I like tangible endpoints in my cardio, i.e. see that hill? Sprint to the top. See that ball? Go get it. See that weight? Pick it up (you get the idea). Keep it simple but progressive and for goodness sake… make it fun! Doing interval sprints on a treadmill is definitely beneficial but is not for everyone. Find a kid (hopefully your own or someone you know) and play tag, hide and seek, and catch. It is amazing how quickly and easily you will get your heart pumping and not even realize it.
No magic bullet here, really; it’s about moving, moving often, eventually moving longer, and ultimately moving more intensely. It goes without saying (but I’m saying it anyway…) that if you have any heart health issues, i.e. high blood pressure, recent cardio events, atrial fibrillation, etc. please consult our Preventous personnel for proper guidance and exercise programming so you can safely hit the ground running towards optimal heart health.
Please feel free to reach out to Preventous personnel on how to work with you to best understand your gut health and optimize your fitness success going forward. Book a time with me or Crystal (our Athletic Therapist) for an individualized exercise program.