Your heart is the most amazing organ. It beats 100,000 times a day every day for the whole of your life; sending 2000 gallons of blood to the 60,000 miles of blood vessels around your body daily. This amounts to as many as 3.5 billion beats in your lifetime!
It stands to reason that looking after and loving your heart is more important that searching for true love, because a real broken heart is one that can no longer perform its lifetime role efficiently.
It’s important to understand the heart is a muscle and like all muscles it needs to be strong in order to function. Top performing athletes often have enlarged hearts and this is down to the vigorous training they partake in, the heart grows stronger, denser and heavier to deal with increased demands.
You don’t need to train like an athlete and dedicate several hours a day to keep your heart healthy though. Combining physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight, through eating a well-balanced diet are all essential components in reducing your risk of coronary heart disease.
So here are five heart healthy workouts to make sure you keep your heart in tip-top condition.
This is training at an intensity you can maintain for an extended period of time. A beginner might start with 15 or 20 minutes of activity such as brisk walking, light jogging or riding a bike. Steady state training helps build a strong aerobic foundation and should be the starting point for anyone new to fitness as well as a good method of recovery for training between more intense sessions. As you become stronger steady state training can be developed into medium and higher intensity steady state sessions where duration times decrease but a sustained effort can be maintained throughout.
Circuit training is a great way to add variety and target strength and conditioning alongside cardiovascular training. As the name suggests the workout includes a circuit approach with several ‘stations’ or exercises that are completed one after the other. The real advantage of this approach is the ability to target multiple muscle groups, making workouts both time efficient and fun.
Fartlek is a Swedish term that means ‘speed play’. Familiar to runners it’s a system that can be incorporated in many other training sessions as well. To use a fartlek approach you simply change intensity throughout the session according to how you are feeling, speeding up and then slowing down as necessary to recover. This ‘play’ with different paces allows greater flexibility, the ability to tune into how your body is responding, and makes sessions varied as well as stimulating.
Interval training involves training at a given intensity for a set duration, interspersed with a duration or ‘rest’ or lower intensity. There are numerous approaches and methods for interval training but the basic principle remains the same, an interval of higher/harder intensity followed by an interval of lower/easier intensity.
HIIT training is essentially a variation of interval training, and involves short, high intensity bursts of activity with longer less intense recovery intervals. High Intensity Interval Training, HIIT as it’s often referred to, has become very popular in recent years often credited with the most efficient way to burn fat. While this is a highly effective form of training it should only be carried out if you have a good foundation of cardiovascular fitness and is unsuitable for beginners. The high demands it places on the body also increases the risk of injury so HIIT sessions should be interspersed with recovery sessions as well as alternated with other training approaches.
There are a numerous ways to keep your heart healthy so remember this Valentine’s Day, the greatest love affair is the one you have with your own heart!