Are you new to your fitness and weight loss journey? Don’t sweat it. Not many people know the actual benefits of cardio and strength training for their bodies and how they work together for optimal fitness. Similarly, where you put your focus can matter in the long run, depending on what goal you’re trying to achieve. Check out some differences below to see what works best for you and how to incorporate both into your daily routine.
It happens to the best of us. We have great hopes and expectations for our exercise program, swearing that we will hit the gym daily but ultimately feeling dejected at what we consider a failure of motivation leading back to the couch. If this describes the past several years of your life, you are most certainly not alone. Starting an exercise program after months or even years of sitting on the sidelines can be daunting, mainly because it’s the most challenging right at the beginning when you must push yourself and feel a little pain to get the gain. This might be further complicated by any heart health issues, which may scare you into believing that exercise will cause your heart to overload or somehow shut down.
These days, heart health has become a loosely used term. And while the theory behind heart, healthy foods, drinks, and activities are important to understand, how can one practice a healthy heart lifestyle in “real” life? In other words, with all the temptations around us, what can we do to prolong our heart health and, frankly, our lives?
The most important thing to understand about heart health is that it is not a zero-sum game. If you have been following lax dietary and exercise habits and experiencing high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, or other metabolic concerns, it’s important to remember that these did not develop overnight and will not be fixed immediately. Getting back to a heart-healthy lifestyle is a continuum that will start with minor improvements that eventually lead to more considerable successes—being heart-healthy means changing habits for the better but doing so sustainably.
Plenty of data supports the concept of incremental improvements leading to long-term overall success. These improvements may seem small, but as we stack one on the other, we slowly but surely reach our goals.
Starting a new exercise regimen can sometimes be nerve-racking if you’ve been diagnosed with heart (cardiovascular) disease. You know you have to do it, but one can’t help but wonder how it will affect your heart and if it will trigger a cardiovascular event. To be sure, any new exercise program should be discussed with your cardiologist to ensure maximum safety. But there are a few tried and true exercise programs that virtually everyone can pursue. One such program is known as zone 2 training or base training. When you think about training programs, you are often pushed toward HIIT, which involves bursts of high-intensity exercise. To be sure, there is a place for this kind of training, and with proper oversight from your medical team and exercise physiologist, it can be very successful. However, HIIT, typically higher zone training, does not create that base level of endurance and cardiovascular function that zone 2 can.
Coronary artery disease, or CAD, is one of the most common cardiovascular diseases in the world and involves the arteries that transport oxygen-rich blood around the entire body. These incredible delivery vehicles constantly expand and contract, 24 hours a day, to ensure that blood reaches its destinations around the body efficiently. However, as we age, and are largely dependent on our dietary and lifestyle choices, these arteries can begin accumulating plaque deposits. The arteries become progressively narrower, and less blood can reach its destination, the heart. The result significantly increases the risk of a deadly heart attack. When this occlusion happens in the extremities, it is known as peripheral artery disease (PAD). It can cause significant problems in the arms and legs, including, if left untreated, amputation of the affected limb.
High blood pressure or hypertension is a leading risk factor of cardiovascular disease and, unfortunately, very common in modern-day society. A worsening of the obesity epidemic throughout the United States has made high blood pressure a fact of life for more of our patients, many of whom are experiencing it at even younger ages. Blood pressure involves the resistance of blood flow within the arteries, as well as how much blood the heart must pump. There are two numbers to every blood pressure reading. The upper number, or systolic, measures arterial pressure during a heartbeat, while the lower number measures it between beats. Both numbers are relevant when deciding if your blood pressure needs to be treated.