February is dedicated as American Heart Month to bring awareness to the No. 1 cause of death among many different groups: heart disease. Understanding heart disease is important because many of its risk factors—cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, and excessive alcohol use—are preventable. A healthy lifestyle creates the ideal foundation for the heart to function at its best.
One big piece of the puzzle, besides diet, is exercise. Cardiovascular exercise helps you maintain a healthy heart, but that isn’t the only benefit. A healthy weight, increased sense of well-being, and decreased levels of stress are a few other reasons to maintain a cardio exercise routine. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate cardio exercise a week or 75 minutes of high intensity exercise or—better yet—a combination of both.
Exercise is considered aerobic, or cardiovascular, in nature if you increase your heart rate for a set period of time. Your target heart rate will depend on your age and gender. Reaching this target can be done through many forms of aerobic physical activity, including team sports, swimming, biking, and jogging. There are many ways to take care of your heart through cardio, including workouts you can do at home and those available to members of Hancock Wellness Center.
Home workouts are easy to access
Home-based aerobic workouts are easily accessible. You don’t have to commute, and you can throw in a quick workout whenever it’s convenient. Furthermore, home workouts don’t usually require fancy equipment and will, many times, use body weight as the main resistance. Kids can even join in—helping teach them healthy lifestyle habits. Some popular at-home cardiovascular exercises include:
- jumping rope
- jumping jacks
- running, jogging or sprinting
- squat jumps
- high-intensity interval training (HIIT)
HIIT uses various exercises and is proven to be an effective form of cardiovascular exercise. It challenges you to maintain short, high-intensity bursts broken up by low-intensity recovery periods. For instance, you may do one minute of high-intensity burpees followed by two to three minutes of jogging in place to recover. Then repeat for the length of your workout. If you’re interested in refining your at-home workout, there are many apps available for download in which you can access personal training and exercise routines based on your interests.
Heading to the gym
Joining a gym is a great way to maintain your overall health. Begin setting yourself up for success by meeting with a personal trainer who walks you through the available equipment, shows you how to use it safely, and creates a workout tailored for your health goals. Then, all you have to do is show up and get to work!
Heading to a gym has the obvious benefit of a variety of equipment for your workout needs. You can get your dose of cardiovascular exercise by using equipment like ellipticals, treadmills, stair climbers, bikes, and rowing machines. Another benefit of a lot of gyms is access to a pool. Swimming is an incredible aerobic workout with the added benefit of being easier on the joints than running and even cycling.
Group exercise classes are another excellent way to show your heart some love. Zumba and other dance-fitness classes, water-fitness classes, HIIT and cycling are just some of the offerings available at your local Hancock Wellness Center. Classes have the added benefit of a knowledgeable instructor and a set time and day of the week, making it even easier to keep up with your exercise routine in a safe environment.
Get the most out of your cardio workout
Speak to your doctor before beginning any cardio workout regimen. And don’t forget that there are other healthy lifestyle choices that are a perfect love match to regular exercise. Eating a healthy and well-balanced diet and making sure to warm up and cool down before your workouts will keep your body feeling strong and healthy while you exercise.
This month, show your heart some love. Whether that means scheduling some time at home to try out a HIIT workout, heading to one of our Hancock Wellness Center gyms for a cycling class, or something else, you will actively decrease your chances of developing heart disease each time you do.