The Benefits of a Healthy Heart
From the soles of your feet to the hair on your head, your heart is the engine that pumps fuel to every functioning component of your body. Improving your circulation will ensure that your entire body is receiving the blood, nutrients, oxygen, and hormones it needs to perform optimally. The health and fitness of your cardiovascular system (heart and lungs) helps provide your body with the nourishment it needs to fight disease, manage a healthy weight, and maintain homeostasis (optimal stability). It also decreases stress, helps prevent diabetes, alleviates fatigue, stabilizes sleep patterns, reduces bodily inflammation, and improves brain performance!
Aerobic Conditioning is when an athlete strengthens their heart and lungs’ ability to pump blood and oxygen throughout the body. This improvement of their cardiovascular system lets them exercise more efficiently and for a longer period of time by allowing the heart to pump more blood per beat and increasing the size of the blood vessels (which reduces blood pressure). It also enlarges your lungs, so you can breathe in and distribute more oxygen into your blood.
Pick an Exercise
The easiest exercises for aerobic conditioning are: walking, running, jumping, yoga/Pilates, shadowboxing, and dancing because you don’t need anything other than your body and a little bit of space! Next up are those that need a basic tool: cycling, jumping rope, and the farmer’s walk. Lastly are those that need uncommon equipment: rowing, swimming, battle ropes, sled pulls, and hitting a punching bag.
Get to Work!
Once you’ve picked an exercise, then it’s time to get to work! (Warm-up before your main exercise to increase circulation and prevent injury; jogging in place or doing jumping jacks is a good place to start. And don’t forget to cool down as well! All you have to do is go for a walk.) Keep your body guessing by switching the exercise you do every couple of weeks, this allows you to maximize the benefit you receive by challenging yourself in different ways.
General guidelines suggest 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week broken up into 30-60 minute workouts per day; with a maximum of 300 minutes a week. If you haven’t worked out recently, then its best to start slow and gradually increase the duration of your workouts; going too hard is a surefire way to injure yourself.
Taking Things to the Next Level (Hardcore Health Nuts Only!)
For those of you who are looking to step up your heart health game and willing to put in a little more work, then this is a good place to start. Optimal growth with aerobic conditioning occurs when you exercise near your personal anaerobic threshold (typically around 85% of your peak heart-rate). So invest in a heart monitor, push yourself as hard as you can, note where your heart-rate peaks, then exercise at an intensity that is 80-90% of your peak heart-rate.
A healthy heart is the foundation for a healthy life because it is the first step in the performance of our organs and muscles. Aerobic conditioning is the process of improving our heart and lung health through exercise. With a strong heart, you use less energy doing the things you need to do, so you have more energy to do the things you want. Exercise isn’t the only aspect of maintaining a healthy heart though, diet and sleep play a major part as well!