My point to you today is about the most important component of your fitness – which is your heart. You have to exercise your heart to be fit. Your heart is a muscle. Well, how do I go about doing this? The main thing you want to do is get your heart pumping. You can do this by climbing stairs, walking briskly, dancing, jogging, taking an aerobic class, etc.
There are some very important things you must know about exercising your heart before you begin. First of all, you heart rate should never exceed 220 minus your age in beats per minute. So if you are 40 years old your heart should never exceed 180bpm.
Resting heart rate is about 60-80bpm for most adults. Ideally you want to warm up your heart a bit then take it to a number of about 85% your max and then bring your heart rate back down. This number would be about 160bpm for hard work and about 130bpm for rest work for our 40 year old example.
If you exercise like this for about 30 minutes a day 5-7 times per week your heart will work better for you and you will feel better because blood is circulating better in your body.
Here are some important points about your heart rate:
- You can get a heart rate monitor at Academy or online for under $50. The best kind of heart rate monitor is one that straps onto your body and then you also have a watch that you wear on your arm that displays your heart rate. Precor makes a great one and this one will also display your heart rate on Precor fitness equipment (at most gyms). I like this one because it is the most accurate and it keeps up with you. Most equipment you use in the gym takes a few seconds to catch up.
- 220 beats per minute is not a random number. 200bpm is a healthy baby’s heart rate when born. Children also have a higher heart rate, both resting and while at work, than adults.
- Medications you take can affect your heart rate. If you are on any type of medication that affects your heart rate you will most likely have to adjust your actual beats per minute by decreasing this number about 20-50%. For example our 40 year old on medication would have to adjust their max heart rate to about 140bpm. Some medications that affect your heart rate include blood pressure medications and beta blockers.
- If you do not have a heart rate monitor you can always account for your activity by the way you are breathing. When working very hard you should still be able to carry on a conversation, even though you may be winded, you can still talk.
- If you have difficulty talking or you are too winded, do not just stop the activity. This can cause a serious health condition. You simply slow down your exercise and take one or two deep breaths amidst the shallow breaths and your heart rate and shortness of breath should return to a more normal rate quickly – within a minute.
Your cardio vascular exercise should include exercising your heart – always! This is the main component of your fitness. Your body will work better if you do this one thing. And because your heart is working efficiently you will also burn calories. Remember calories in must be calories burned. If you are consuming more calories than your body burns you will gain weight.
Train Like a Champion!