I’m Going to Huff and Puff to Help My Heart

ID-100132826Strengthening your heart muscle is similar to strengthening your biceps. The more you exercise it, the thicker and stronger the heart muscle gets. The heart muscle is just like any other muscle. If it is forced to exercise at least at a minimum on most days, the muscle grows thicker. Aerobic exercise is so important because it keeps your most physically important organ going at top efficiency. The stronger the pump, the easier it is to get blood flowing throughout your body.

Jogging is one of the best ways to strengthen your heart because it keeps your heart at an elevated sustained heart rate for a specific period of time. Studies have shown the risk of death among consistent joggers to be reduced by 44%. In addition data shows that jogging has been linked with an added 6.2 years to the life expectancies for men and 5.6 years to the life expectancies for women.

How does jogging actually extend your life? The answer is found in many studies that explain that jogging raises HDL, which in turn protects your arteries. Not only does it extend your life by giving you more HDL police car molecules to carry off the LDL splinters stuck in your arteries. Even if you choose another form of aerobic exercise you should consider this truism – you must be Huffing (and puffing) to increase H-ero HDL cholesterol. A mild walk, while burning a few calories and elevating your mood, may not be helping your heart.

The best exercise you can do to strengthen your heart is to sustain a significantly high heart rate (above the 80th percentile of your maximum rate) for a 30 minute interval. It is easy to figure the eightieth percentile number of your maximum heart rate. Take the number 220, subtract your age, and that will give what your maximum heart rate should be. That doesn’t mean your heart will stop if you go one beat over, but it is a good number to work with. Then, take 80 percent of that maximum heart rate number to obtain the number you should aim to sustain during each your exercise period.

After reading several articles concerning sustaining my heart rate above the eightieth percentile, I bought the first of several pulse counting wristwatches I have owned over the years. These are very helpful gadgets when considering whether you are getting enough exercise strengthen you heart. If you are just starting an exercise program and have a medical concern, please check with you physician first.

Aerobic exercise not only strengthens your heart muscle but also helps you lose weight, lower your blood pressure, and decrease your risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and even some cancers. Exercise also helps extend your life by preventing obesity and increasing bone density, as well as by improving psychological function and lowering your triglycerides. So, keep it up and encourage yourself that all the huffing and puffing and sweating is worth it to help your heart with heroic HDL.






“Runner” photo courtesy of suranualpradid at www.freedigitalimages.net