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Heart-healthy exercise habits

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POSTED February 8, 2009 4:38 a.m.
People always talk about how they’re going to the gym to do some “cardio.” What’s that really mean?

Whether they’re running on a treadmill, riding the recumbent bicycle or using an elliptical machine, they’re talking about doing aerobic exercise - otherwise known as cardio because of its profound cardiovascular benefits. Plain and simple, when you’re doing aerobic exercise, you’re using oxygen to replenish energy stores, which means the heart and lungs are working harder and getting stronger in the process.

By comparison, anaerobic exercise (for example, weight training), requires your body to create energy without using oxygen. Here are some of the other benefits of aerobic exercise:

 • Increases blood supply to muscles and ability to utilize oxygen.

 • Increases amount of blood pumped (per beat and per minute).
• Increases HDL (“good”) cholesterol and lowers triglycerides.
• Increases blood supply to muscles.

• Reduces resting heart rate.

• Reduces resting systolic/diastolic blood pressure.

• Reduces high cholesterol and risk of developing high cholesterol.

To achieve the maximum cardiovascular benefit during aerobic activities, you should exercise for at least 20-30 minutes at a time and build to your “target heart rate” - this is a range of beats per minute that approximately 60-85 percent of your maximum heart rate. The more time spent exercising within this safe range, the more you stand to gain, cardiovascularly speaking. How do you figure out your target heart rate?

Here is a simple formula: 220 minus your age equals your maximum heart rate. Multiply that number by .6 to get the lower end of your target heart zone range and multiply that number by .85 to get the high end of your target heart zone range. Try to stay in that range but don’t go over. because then you are no longer doing aerobic exercise.  (You become anaerobic and that means you are no longer burning fat! Incidentally, you need to be in your zone for about 20 minutes before fat burning kicks in...........but that’s a whole different article.)

Remember to always talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise program, particularly if you have any pre-existing heart condition.

Dr. Van Wyngarden is a chiropractor who practices in Ripon. Her favorite patients are children  and pregnant women.   She welcomes questions regarding health and wellness, exercise,  nutrition and the care of children. For further information, please call the office at 599-2699.

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