It's All In The Heart
It’s Valentine’s Day. So, let’s focus on the heart.
Covering how to optimize cardiovascular health benefits in your workouts, and also the importance of infusing joy and heart-pumping play into your wellness plan, here is my take on reaching your fitness and wellness goals through a balanced approach.
You all know that cardio exercise is one of the best things we can do for our bodies to improve long term health. But do you know about the different types of cardio that you can incorporate into your weekly routine in order to improve heart and cardiovascular health?
‘Aerobic’ means ‘with oxygen’ and typically involves a longer duration cardio activity (such as running, cycling, or walking).
‘Anaerobic’ means ‘without oxygen’ and is associated with higher intensity interval training (such as sprinting, or dancing your ass off for a few minutes at your heart rate maximum)
There are benefits to both.
Both types affect your metabolic pathways, but in slightly different ways. Aerobic activity improves your endurance and your ability to burn fat, where as anaerobic activity adds enormous benefit to your metabolism, improving your body’s ability to burn energy even when at rest. Both are needed in order to become that fat burning machine that many are looking to achieve.
Here are my recommendations on how to achieve the best of both aerobic and anaerobic worlds.
Do a bit of both.
Clients will often stick to one type of cardio exercise, which is typically in the aerobic category, while neglecting the other, and then they wonder why nothing is changing.
Just like any muscle in your body, your heart is a muscle, and it loves to be exercised in different ways, and both types of cardio training are proven to be beneficial.
An important realization to come to is avoiding the tendency to over train in this area, which is termed, ‘chronic cardio’, which can actually lead to inflammation, overuse, injury, and burnout. Chronic cardio can also translate into holding on to the pounds instead of losing them! With rigorous professional dance, HIIT class schedules, and personal training sessions, I have definitely been a culprit of this in the past.
How do you know if you are experiencing chronic cardio?
A good example is this: If you are someone who focuses mainly on cardio, and then you go away for a week, where you break that cardio routine, you may have noticed that you actually dropped a few pounds. This could be a sign of over training (chronic cardio) because your body reads that cardio routine as a threat, which then induces a reaction to protect itself and keep you inflamed, whereas when you take that well needed break, your body no longer perceives the threat and the result is then letting go of that inflammation, hence the drop in lbs. Something to think about.
Variety is key.
If you are someone who loves going on that long run, then definitely do it, but only aim to do that once or twice a week (unless of course you are in some type of marathon training, where weekly mileage is important), then mix it up with some faster-paced HIIT workouts, or another workout entirely, depending on what you feel like doing. Remember that for HIIT workouts to be the most effective, know your heart rate zones, and what your heart rate max is (HR Max). Aim to hit your HR max 3-5 times within a workout, for 1-2 min each spike. Above all, it is important to listen your body and consciously choose your workout based on what your body is telling you that it wants. Often times, we get stuck on a workout schedule or track, and forget to listen to our bodies - this will change the game for your workouts and getting those results.
An added tip.
Once you find out your heart rate zones (you can always ask a fitness professional on how to do this accurately), wear a heart rate monitor for the first couple of months, so you learn how to gauge when you actually hit your HR max. Often times, clients come to me and say they are pushing as hard as they can, but then in actuality, when I have them wear the monitor, they are amazed to see that they can actually push themselves a bit further. This can be applied to all levels of fitness, and can change over different periods of time and throughout life. Keep in mind that as your cardio health improves, it will take more effort to hit your HR max, but that’s a good thing, and just remember that the numbers don’t lie.
The importance of PLAY
More important now than ever, one of the ten primal blueprint laws is to play. If there is a sport or hobby that you love, definitely make a point of including that in your weekly workout routine. The benefits of this are many, including getting you outside, gets you social and interacting with a community, and most of all it is something you get joy out of, which is clinically proven to reduce stress and anxiety.
My husband’s favorite activity is to play basketball, and he gets in a game once a week. He absolutely loves it, and the best part is that he is getting a workout without it feeling like one. The point is to find some activity that can get your heart going while also feeling like fun.
The Art of Indulgence
Because it is Valentine’s Day, it’s important to indulge yourself, thank yourself and your body, responsibly and healthfully. As a chocolate lover, here is my favorite feel good recipe that puts a healthier spin on a classic indulgence:
This recipe was comforting and delicious, and so easy. There’s nothing I like more than a chocolate treat without feeling super guilty. Here’s the link to the recipe. I added my own flare with some 80% dark chocolate pieces for a little extra indulgence (and antioxidants). Would love to hear how you like them!
True health and wellness comes from balance.
You will only further your achievement of sustainable results if you are achieving a healthy balance between keeping a productive and multi-faceted workout strategy, and maintaining your happiness and joy of food.
With both exercise and nutrition, play around a little, and have an indulgence that’s on the healthier side. Your body will thank you.
For the most effective way to reach real, sustainable results, contact me for a free 30-minute fitness and wellness consultation, and we will build an attainable, achievable, and balanced action plan that will deliver on your health and wellness goals. I am with you.