By Ryan Lawson, Exercise Specialist
We’re all familiar with the phrase “use it or lose it,” and it perfectly applies to our body and muscles. Muscles are made to be used, and if they’re neglected it’s our health and quality of life that suffers.
Cardiovascular exercise is defined as any activity that increases your heart rate. Elevating your heart rate for an extended period of time (at least 30 minutes daily) will improve your heart health. A stronger, healthier heart is able to more efficiently deliver oxygen to the muscles and also burn more fat while you’re exercising and resting.
The benefits of a stronger heart through cardiovascular exercise are numerous. In addition to a stronger heart and lungs, regular exercise has been shown to lead to better sleep, less stress, reduction in mood swings and depression and an overall more active lifestyle.
You have a target heart rate zone that you should strive for during activity. A simple way to calculate it would be to first find your predicted maximum heart rate, which you can find by subtracting your age from 220. Once you’ve figured your maximum heart rate, you can find your target healthy heart rate range by multiplying your maximum heart rate by 65 percent (0.65) to find the low end of that range and multiply your maximum heart rate by 85 percent (0.85) to find the high end of the range.
Example: The maximum heart rate for a 45-year-old is 175 and the target heart rate range would be about 113 to 149 beats per minute.
Step 1: 220 – 45 (Age) = 175 beats per minute—maximum heart rate
Step 2: 175 x 0.65 = 113.17 beats per minute—low end of target range
Step 3: 175 x 0.85 = 148.75 beats perm minute—high end of target range
Keep in mind that this is just an estimate. There are several other ways to monitor your heart rate during physical activity to maximize the potential benefits.
The benefits of a stronger heart cannot be understated. As with anything new, please consult your physician for more information about your individual target heart rate and to determine the best course of action for you. If you have fallen out of the exercise routine, there’s no time like the present to get back on track. Any regular physical activity, no matter what it is, will be beneficial in the long run.