February is heart month, and as far as I’m concerned there’s no such thing as too many fitness tips – with all of our modern-day conveniences peer-pressuring us to turn into couch potatoes, we have to stay strong and make sure our heart does too.
Here are 7 fitness tips to give your heart a little love:
1. Rank Your Heart
Since you’re already working heart (get it?) to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle, check out HeartAge.me: It’s an online quiz that helps determine the “age” of your heart, while offering you specific insights on how to improve your routine.
2. Track How Effective Your Workouts Are
A heart rate monitor is helpful in tracking your workouts to make sure your heart’s fully benefiting: You want to make sure you’re working out in your target heart rate zone, which is about 60 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. (To calculate yours, subtract your age from 220.) Use the Instant Heart Rate app to measure your heart rate after each workout.
3. Take 10
While on your busiest day you want to strive for a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity, try out 10-minute walks three times a day instead of going the full 30 in one shot: According to a recent study, 10-minute walks were shown to lower blood pressure more effectively than longer ones.
4. There’s More to Life Than Cardio
When you think “heart health,” the automatic assumption is to scout out fitness tips related to cardio – meanwhile, strength-training (like lifting weights, push-ups and lunges) can be just as beneficial. Strength-training works both your muscular and cardiovascular system, improving your endurance level, and increasing your good cholesterol levels.
5. Workout in Short, Intense Bursts
If you’re an office worker like me, one of the best fitness tips offered to me was to take 4-minute breaks where I run in place or do jumping jacks. High-intensity interval training works great in this instance too, where you alternate between bursts of high- and low-intensity moves. For example, rotating 30 seconds of running in place with 30 seconds of marching.
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6. Don’t Just Sit There
This is one of those sneaky fitness tips where it doesn’t seem like it would be super-effective, but I’ll be the first to admit it’s made a huge difference for me: It turns out you can lower your blood pressure while sitting in your desk chair by doing isometric exercises. Isometric movements are where you contract your muscles without moving the body part. For example, flexing your thigh muscles. I couldn’t help but giggle when I first started doing these, but I feel much less sluggish when I’m done work for the day. Shoot for 20-minute sessions of contracting and relaxing.
Use exercise as your time to break away from your RSS feeds, email and anything tech-related. Because we’re connected 24/7 our natural stress levels are much higher than they should be, which raises blood pressure and your heart rate. If it feels weird at first, turn everything off for 15 minutes at a time until you’re comfortable enough to go through your entire routine sans technology. Then spend that time raising your heart rate in a healthy way.
What fitness tips do you follow to keep your heart healthy?
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Image: Rance Costa