Pump It Up
Give your heartbeat a boost by incorporating aerobic exercise
We conclude our Health Care Starts With You series by talking with fitness expert Chris Ullom of Wareing’s Gym about cardiovascular health. He offers insight and technical advice. Plus, we suggest three ways to make your workouts feel less like work.
Why are cardiovascular workouts important?
Ullom: We typically think of cardiovascular training as any exercise that utilizes oxygen in the production of energy—what we call “aerobic” training. When the rate of work exceeds the body’s ability to use oxygen and remove metabolic waste (a point called the lactate threshold) we have entered a state of “anaerobic” training (and we all know what that muscle burn associated with too much lactic acid feels like).
A period of aerobic training stimulates several positive physical adaptations that lead to improved cardio-respiratory fitness.
Training also improves the heart’s ability to supply blood with each contraction, so that more blood is delivered with each beat. That ultimately means your heart doesn’t have to beat as many times per minute. Being able to deliver more oxygen to the cells, and the cells’ ability to utilize more of that oxygen, means that you will be able to work aerobically for a longer period of time and at a higher intensity.
Lastly, training has a positive influence on your mental toughness. Like anything else in life, the more you do it the easier it feels. This combination of improved physiological conditioning carries over into almost every activity that we enjoy—tennis, dancing or just playing with the kids.
How do you measure success?
Ullom: When embarking upon a cardiovascular training program, it is helpful to have a measurable outcome. While resting heart rate can be a fairly good indicator of your current state of conditioning, there is a strong genetic factor that dictates whether an individual has normal sinus rhythm (60–100 beats per minute), sinus bradycardia (below 60 bpm), or sinus tachycardia (above 100 bpm) at rest.
Perhaps the most effective way to measure training progress is the Heart Rate Recovery method:
Immediately upon the conclusion of your training session monitor your heart rate.
Exactly one minute later, monitor your heart rate again. The difference in those measurements is your Heart Rate Recovery (i.e. 160 bpm at the end of the session minus 140 bpm 1 minute later = 20 beats recovered). Elite athletes will typically recover greater than 40 beats in one minute.
After several weeks of training you should notice that you can recover a greater number of beats than you could on day one, given the same rate of work.
Ullom: Don’t do too much too soon. Your body will respond in a positive way to gradual increases in workload. Conversely, your body will respond negatively to drastic changes in training intensity and volume. And, you may want to check in with your physician before embarking
Creative Cardio--Three Simple Ways To Amp Up Your Fitness Routine
Varying your routine will keep things from getting stale. Try alternate modes of exercise that incorporate learning a new skill or that you can easily fit into your daily routine:
Boxing – Good for your heart. Also reduces stress.
Dance – Learning the Rumba or another Latin dance increases cardiovascular health and releases endorphins, which is great for giving your mood a boost.
Strenuous Gardening – Bet you didn’t know that energetic gardening sessions are good workouts, plus you’ll be checking off one more thing on your to-do list.
Just add music – Compose play lists with special tunes reserved just for workout time.
Take it outside – Reacquaint yourself with local parks and fitness trails. Hampton Roads is filled with lesser known, incredibly scenic hiking and biking trails that will get you off the beaten path. Did you know that a brisk hike in the woods has many surprising collateral benefits?
Exercising in the outdoors can enhance mental and emotional wellbeing.
Engaging with the natural world helps to put things into perspective.
Make it social – Buddy up with friends or family members for workout routines. Exercise partners lend encouragement and enthusiasm.
Plan periodic ‘play dates’ for yourself during the week. Those social workout breaks will provide welcome respites from your busy schedule.