If you have any heart disease history in your family (I do), that’s reason enough to toughen up your heart. The heart is the most important muscle in the body. The heart can keep us young and with a little work, we can make the heart function as if we are 20 years younger. With a younger stronger heart maybe we can change some of these ugly stats.
Heart disease (which includes Heart Disease, Stroke and other Cardiovascular Diseases) is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States, killing nearly 787,000 people alone in 2011.
In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 34 seconds. Every 60 seconds, someone in the United States dies from a heart disease-related event.
About 720,000 people in the U.S. suffer heart attacks each year. Of these, 515,000 are a first heart attack and 205,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack.
Those statistics and others you can find at The Heart Foundation.org. They should scare the hell out of any conscious person with a family history of heart disease. The latest studies from Ulrik Wisløff, Ph.D., a professor of physiology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology,show that doing High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and increasing the heart rate to 85 to 90% of the maximum rate for 4 minutes resting then doing it again 3 more times will reap huge benefits to your heart. The total time for the HIIT is 21 minutes. This is 1 minute over my usual workout time. Take20today sounds better than take21today. This is the route I’m taking to strengthen my heart and hopefully boost my fitness age. A person might seem like they’re in decent shape. They may be 48 years old and have the fitness age of a 58-year-old.
We need to practice how we want to play. You know why somebody has a heart attack? Their heart isn’t strong enough to handle the rigorous activity that it’s being put through, whether it be stress or activity related. We should try to train our heart every day. The HIIT training I”ll do 2 times per week and other strength and cardio training on other days will increase my heart rate and give it a great work out. Moving the heart out of its comfort zone trains it to deal with any situation. You’ll be in a much better position to handle situations of high stress – your heart will say “hey, I’ve been here before. I’m not saying you need to go from a couch potato to training like an Olympic sprinter, but you need to challenge yourself every single day. Step a little bit more outside of your comfort zone. Push a little farther, a little faster, a little stronger each time
How to Heart Rate Train
To try heart rate zone training for yourself, you first need to determine your maximum heart rate. Max HR is the highest heart rate an individual can achieve through exercise stress. The most precise way to measure it is to have an exercise physiologist administer a treadmill test. This involves running on a treadmill while machines track your blood pressure and heart rate. A far less involved (but also less accurate) way is to use the following equation from the American College of Exercisers.
208 – (.7 x your age)
So the maximum heart rate for a 48-year-old would be 208 – (.7 x 48) or 208 – 37 = 171 beats per minute (BPM).
Let’s say our 48-year-old trainee exercises regularly and is currently trying to improve their aerobic capacity. With a maximum heart rate of 171 beats per minute, he or she should try to keep his or her heart rate between 145 and 153 BPM, or at about 85 to 90 percent of 171.
My recumbent bike and my treadmill both have heart monitors on them. The heart rate app on my phone also works great. The problem when using the app is I have to stop exercising to measure my heart rate. My heart rate will slow down as I’m trying to measure. I purchased a FitBit with a heart rate monitor, and wasn’t satisfied. I’ll just use what I have right now. Until I find a quality heart rate monitor I can trust, I’ll stick with what I have. I’ve compared my Heart Rate app with the recumbent bike and treadmill monitors also with my blood pressure monitor and they are all within a few beats per minute.
When I do my 20-minute workouts, which include push-ups, squats, pull-ups, bench presses my heart rate will reach that 85 to 90% max for less than 2 minutes. The HIIT workouts I’ll be starting will present the challenge of holding that max heart rate for 4 minutes. This is no simple task for me which means my fitness age is not where I want it to be. Let’s begin using baby steps and try to keep the heart rate for 2 minutes at 70% max. I’ll be doing this twice a week and hope to increase it to 4 minutes after 4 weeks. The goal is to strengthen my heart and lower my fitness age.
* Please consider I’m doing these exercises because I know my body and will slow down if I reach my limitations. Everyone is different, talk to your doctor if you feel it necessary. Our heart’s strengths and weaknesses are individualized to our specific selves.