Strengthen Your Heart

Vermont Fitness

The heart is an amazing muscle and is responsible for oxygenated blood, supplying tissue with nutrients as well as removing waste products. This is a full time job with no days off. For instance, if you use an average of 80 beats per minute, your heart beats about 4,800 times per hour. That’s a whopping 115,200 times per day. Over the course of a year, your heart would beat about 42,048,000 times! If you live to be 80 years old, your heart would have beaten approximately 3,363,840,000 times! So I think we can all see the importance of this organ (muscle) in our lives, so taking care of it is an important step in maintaining a healthy life. Here are some examples of exercise benefits:

  • lowering your risk for heart disease
  • keeps your weight down
  • improves your mood
  • lowers your risk for some types of cancer
  • improves your balance
  • reduces your risk of osteoporosis by increasing your bone mass
  • gives you more energy
  • helps you sleep better
  • increases your levels of HDL cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol that lowers heart disease risk by flushing the artery-clogging LDL or “bad” cholesterol out of your system

When we think about exercising for heart benefits we gravitate to embracing the cardiovascular or aerobic side of this equation, yet strength training can also play a very important part in increasing cardiovascular health.

According to Dr. Scott R Collier,Resistance training is more beneficial than many believe.” The resistance exercises produced a different pattern of blood vessel responses than the aerobic exercise, suggesting that the former may have important and unique benefits for cardiovascular health. The resistance exercise produced greater increases in blood flow to the limbs—even though it also caused small increases in central arterial stiffness. In contrast, aerobic exercise decreased arterial stiffness—but without an increase in blood flow.

Also, the effort of lifting weights or resistance training of any sort demands that the heart make forceful contractions to supply the working muscles with the energy and in so doing increasing the interior part of the heart to grow stronger and in some cases even thicker to adopt to these work loads.

Exercise, whether strength or aerobic, lowers our heart rate, or in other words, the beats per minute will decrease as the heart grows stronger; the reason being a stronger heart can more forcefully pump more blood per contraction. So this is a great benefit of exercising. Monitoring the heart rate through exercise lets us know what the level of intensity is, but also determining resting heart rate is also valuable to determine work loads and if measured the first thing in the morning could tell us if we are sick or over trained.

To establish your normal resting heart rate, take your heart rate before getting up out of the bed in the morning using this method:

  1. Place two fingers on the radial or carotid artery
  2. When you feel your pulse time the beats for 15 seconds then multiply by 4
  3. Do this three times in three consecutive mornings
  4. Add all three heart rates together
  5. Divide by three and that will be your true resting heart rate

Once you have established your resting heart rate it will give you the tools to ascertain if you are stressed, lacking sleep, getting sick, or if you are an athlete overtrained. In closing, add those resistance training sessions at least twice a week. Not enough time you say? Well it can be as little as 7 to 15 minutes to see results. Small investment, big dividends. 

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