Give Your Heart a Happy Workout

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If you feel the physical activity one hour per day ideal a little too intimidating, scientists have some great news: While virtually any activity is great for your heart, new research shows that you can boost its heart-attack-proofing benefits—and spend a little less time at the gym—by making three ‘smooth’ changes to your workout. Here’s how to get started.   


Your Weekly Perspiration Schedule
Day 1: Stabilization and Cardio intervals

Day 2: Stabilization, Strength training and Stretching

Day 3: Stabilization and Cardio intervals

Day 4: Stabilization and Stretching

Day 5: Stabilization and Strength training

Day 6: Stabilization, Cardio intervals, Stretching

Day 7: Light walk or Rest 


1.    Recharge Your Cardio
Studies have established that interval training (alternating between high-and moderate-intensity bursts of activity) can double and possibly even triple the heart-protecting benefits you’d get from moderate cardio sessions—even when you
exercise for less time. “Short cardio bursts make your heart work harder and pump more blood with each beat, which strengthens your entire cardiovascular system.

[Note] High-intensity cardio also prompts your muscles to develop more mitochondria, tiny energy-making units within cells that use sugar and fat for fuel. The more mitochondria you have, the better your muscles become at utilizing carbohydrates, improving the body’s insulin sensitivity. The result: Less sugar floats around in your blood, and this lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes, a major precursor to heart disease. High-intensity exercise may also give you a greater reduction in blood pressure. When you pick up the pace, artery walls produce nitric oxide, which boosts their ability to dilate so blood flows more easily.

Intimidated? Consider this: Norwegian researchers looked at two groups of patients who were suffering from chronic heart failure. Three times a week, one group walked at a moderate pace, while the other group did high-intensity bursts of walking. The interval-training group increased their VO2 max, a key indicator of cardiovascular function, by a whopping 46%—triple the increase seen in the slower walkers. The best part: “You gauge the intensity based on your own fitness level. That might be a fast jog for you or it could be a brisk walk for someone else.


Your Happy Heart Prescription: Cardio
Do 25 to 30 minutes of interval training 3 times per week. Alternate between 1 to 2 minutes at 85% of your maximum heart rate and 2 to 3 minutes at 65% of MHR; work up to 30-to 60-second intervals at 95% of MHR.

Find Your Best Heart Beat
Step 1. Find your maximum heart rate (MHR). First, multiply your age by 88%. Subtract that number from 206 to get your MHR. If you’re 50, your MHR is 162 beats per minute (206 – 44 [88% of 50] = 162).

Step 2. Multiply your MHR by 65% to get your moderate target heart rate and by 85% to get your high-intensity target heart rate.

Step 3. A heart rate monitor can gauge your beats, but you can also use the “talk test”: When working at high intensity, you will not be able to speak a full sentence without taking a deep breath.


2.    Build Your Strength
It seems women too often shy away from strength training—and they shouldn’t. If you don’t make an effort to maintain muscle mass, it decreases gradually with age—about 5% per decade after age 30—and that loss is more vital to your heart with each passing year. Why? Muscle helps remove glucose and triglycerides from the bloodstream, which reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, as well as hardening of the arteries.

Skimping on strength training can also make it harder to stay at a healthy weight, and extra pounds put you at higher risk of heart disease. That’s because adding muscle mass increases your metabolic rate, meanng, it muscle burns more calories than fat and that can may make it easier to keep weight off.

Building lean muscle mass may also help lower your blood pressure. “Strength training lowers blood pressure for ten to twelve hours after each session, which gives your heart a break,” says William Haskell, PhD, professor emeritus of medicine at Stanford University. “How strength training does this is not completely understood, but it probably has subtle effects on everything from hormones to nervous system regulation.”


3.    Your Happy  Heart Prescription: Strength Training

Do at least 15 to 20 minutes of total-body strength training 2 or 3 times a week.

Here are 3 moves to get you started. Work up to 3 circuits with 1-minute rests in between.

Barbell Squats


Stand with feet wider than shoulders with barbell resting on meaty part of shoulders.  Bend knees and, keeping chest up, lower into a squat.  Keep abs in and the knees behind the toes.  Push through the heels to raise back up and repeat for 16 reps. If you don’t have a barbell, you can use dumbbells or squat with no equipment. 

walking lunges


Stand with feet together, and step right foot forward into a lunge, taking both knees to 90 degrees. Step together with left foot and then lunge forward with left foot into a lunge.  Continue, alternating legs, for the length of the room.  Don’t allow front knee to bend over the toe.  Repeat for 2-4 laps across the room.

sidestep with arnold press


Holding the weights at chest level with palms facing in, take a wide step out to the right into a squat. As you step the right foot back to center, press the arms overhead and rotate the weights out. Lower the weights as you step out to the left, alternating sides. You can also add a jump instead of a step for more intensity. Repeat for 16 reps.

References:, 2011, 2016

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