Fitness, Weight Loss

Heart Healthy Cardio for Weight Loss

February is the month of LOVE!

What is stopping you from loving yourself?

Image: Geralt

At the center of love is the heart; without the heart we could not love.  Not only that, but we could not breathe nor live.  Your heart is one of the most important organs in your body.  It is vital to your livelihood that you take care of it.

So, why am I telling you this?  Because, I want to let you know that I care about you.  Plus, February is Heart Health Month.  It is the month when people put out and share all sorts of information about keeping your heart healthy.

I am not going to be any different, in this case, because I care about you and I want to show how much I LOVE you by letting you know one of the best things you can do to keep your heart and YOU healthy.

You may be thinking, “Yeah, right!” But it’s true.

There are so many different things you can do like eating healthier, loving more, and smiling more that will all help your heart get healthier.  And, YES, you guessed it!  You can exercise too.

You will hear people telling you to just go out for a short walk.  That is great for building momentum and getting started, but after the first week you need to go harder with your walk…if that is what you enjoy doing.

If you want to really increase the power of your heart you need to get in, at least, 3 good 30+ minutes of cardiovascular exercise each week.  This means that you will have to push yourself a bit more than a leisurely walk.

Here’s the deal:

There is such a thing as good cardio and there is such a thing a bad cardio!

Every day there are fitness professionals and medical doctors telling their clients that low to moderate intensity cardio will help prevent heart disease and help you lose weight.  Most of the time they lead you to believe that you can get on a treadmill or go for a walk at a constant, continuous pace and maintain your moderate heart rate to be healthy.

I am going to have to tell you bluntly that this is FALSE information.  Think of the term, “hamster on a wheel.”  That phrase is not used lightly, in fact it leads to thoughts of a same, repeated motion that gets you nowhere.  That is exactly what exercising at a constant, continuous pace with a moderate heart rate will get you…..NOWHERE…and fast!

In fact, more and more studies are beginning to show that high intensity interval exercises have more of an impact on weight loss and health than the steady pace exercising.  I have also discovered this fact for myself.

When I was trying to lose weight I started with a walking and Pilates regimen.  It was great because I was successful at keeping my routine alive.  However, I did not see much weight loss after the first two weeks.  I went the next month without much of a loss at all.  Then I began to add in higher intensity workouts.

I began to include exercises that involved running at different speeds, jumping rope, jumping, and quick motions.  Once I included these I began to see the pounds melt away.

Here is a quote from the Journal of Obesity, located on the U.S. National Library of Medicine website:

“The effect of regular aerobic exercise on body fat is negligible; however, other forms of exercise may have a greater impact on body composition. For example, emerging research examining high-intensity intermittent exercise (HIIE) indicates that it may be more effective at reducing subcutaneous and abdominal body fat than other types of exercise. The mechanisms underlying the fat reduction induced by HIIE, however, are undetermined. Regular HIIE has been shown to significantly increase both aerobic and anaerobic fitness. HIIE also significantly lowers insulin resistance and results in a number of skeletal muscle adaptations that result in enhanced skeletal muscle fat oxidation and improved glucose tolerance.”

Published by Stephen H. Boutcher

Most of the time you will see HIIT instead of HIIE, but it is the same type of exercise. You are exercising at extreme levels for short bursts of time.  Your body is already programmed to move in this fashion anyway.

Think about it….

You walk and you stop.  You wash dishes then you stop.  You climb the stairs to get to where you are going, then you stop.  You bend down to pick something up, then you stop.

Your body naturally does things in bursts of movement, so why should your exercise routine be any different.  The average person is ready to change their activity about every 5 minutes or so.  (This is why it is hard to remain on one task for an extended period of time; and why schools have their schedules set the way they do.)

Exercising should be treated as a part of your life, not separate.  Making it fit the pattern of your lifestyle makes it much more effective.

Another factor you want to take into consideration is that overuse of your body can cause more harm than good.

Your body is a machine, it needs to work properly to give you your desired results.  When you continuously repeat the same motions over and over, you only use certain muscles and joints.  If you have worked sitting or standing in one position for a prolonged period of time, you know the feeling of the aching back or feet.  Or, when you go to move your body feels stiff.

The same thing can happen with exercise, believe it or not.

Steady state exercise releases free radicals which can cause joint pain, slow your immune function, and can lead to chronic diseases such as arthritis.  One way to prevent this is to include exercises that use various muscle groups and strengthen your heart and respiratory functions.

By including HIIT workouts and other exercises that vary the muscles and activities, you will help increase the anti-oxidants within your body which helps fight inflammation, encourages a healthy cardiovascular system, and increases your metabolism to aid in weight loss.

Your heart is the center of your health, so help keep it healthy.

When you consistently train your heart for one situation, every day stress can strain your heart by creating an irregular heart beat or make it overwork itself.   You can prevent this by including various activities that cause your heart to work at varying exertions.  This way when life throws you that curveball your heart can handle the extra pressure.

Keeping a healthy heart also means you are keeping your overall body healthy by stabilizing blood pressure, keeping a regular heart bead, and reducing the effect of other chronic diseases.

One more benefit of using various exercises is your recovery rate.

Image: Jean-Pierre Lavole

As you and your heart become more fit, you recovery rate will improve.  This means that you have less down time between stressful situations or tough workouts and can get back to living your life much quicker.  Plus, you are more likely to continue a routine that varies rather than one that is constantly the same.

By using an exercise routine that allows for various types and styles of exercise you will improve your heart health, your immune function, and be able to lose weight at a more rapid rate and keep it off.

Yes, that’s the kicker isn’t it?  Keeping the weight off after you lose it can be tough.  The healthier your heart is, the more likely you are to keep it off.

How do you implement this information into your exercise routine?

There are a couple different ways you can do this, but the most important thing is that you are doing something that you love.

Treadmill:  run at as fast a speed as you can handle for 1 minute, then walk for 90 seconds and repeat.  If you are more advanced, run for longer periods of time.

DVDs:  find DVD’s that offer various levels of activity or find multiple DVD’s to alternate between days (one that is less intense and one that is more intense).

Traditional:  go through your sets for each exercise non-stop, then break with a jumping rope session for 1-3 minutes, then complete your next set and repeat.

Walking Outdoors:  add in breaks of other exercises such as lunges or skipping then continue on with your walking.

HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts are great for your overall health and weight loss.

Learn more about how you can set up a routine that works for you

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