The heart needs exercise just like any other muscle. Live longer and healthier by pumping it up!
Step 1: Exercise regularly Perform at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, three to five times a week. For best results, aim to work at 65% to 85% of your maximum heart rate, or MHR.
TIP: Calculate your estimated MHR by subtracting your age from 220. For example, if you are 40 years old, your estimated MHR would be 180.
Step 2: Increase the intensity Increase your exercise intensity every two weeks. Add more minutes to your cardio sessions, maintain your heart rate closer to 85% of your max, or increase the distances of your runs and bike rides.
TIP: Do interval training once or twice a week to boost your exercise intensity without having to take up extra time. Add sprints to your runs, crank up the levels on a stair master, or add hills to your runs or bike rides.
Step 3: Eat smart Eat plenty of fruit, vegetables and lean protein, and cut back on saturated fats. A healthy diet can reduce levels of cholesterol, a fatty substance that can cause plaques, scarring and inflammation in the heart.
TIP: Take the talk test for an easy way to monitor your level of exertion. If you can recite the pledge of allegiance without having to gasp for air, you’re exercising in a suitable zone.
Step 4: Cut out junk food Decrease the amount of sugared foods, fried foods, and junk foods in your daily diet, and before you know it you’ll be on your way to a better ticker.
FACT: Your heart pumps blood through your entire body at least 1000 times each day.