The Link Between Heart Rate, Exercise, and Healthy Weight

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Climb the stairs in your home and pay attention to your heart rate. Then pick up something heavy like a bag of books, a sack of dog food or a small child or pet. Now walk back up those stairs.

How does your heart rate differ with the extra weight?

It’s probably beating faster. This is because extra weight requires your heart to work harder.

With each pound that you gain over what would be considered a normal and healthy weight, you cause your heart to work harder. Extra weight also generally means that you have other risk factors.

You may be pre-diabetic, have high blood pressure, and high cholesterol and triglycerides. All of these are risk factors for high blood pressure. It’s why it’s so important to maintain a healthy weight.

So how do you maintain a healthy weight?

We’ve already talked about the role that diet plays in your heart health. Exercise is the other component that can make a significant difference in your weight and your heart health.

Your heart is a muscle.

When you exercise you not only strengthen your heart, you also burn fat and calories so that you can maintain a healthy weight. It’s also important to point out that exercise does more than just help you lose weight.

Doctors and scientists have learned that a sedentary lifestyle contributes to poor health, including heart disease.

In fact, people who don’t exercise have higher rates of death and heart disease compared to people who perform even small amounts of physical activity like gardening and walking.

Hormones are released during exercise and metabolic functions are utilized.

These both help keep your body’s systems operating like they’re supposed to. When you live a sedentary lifestyle, your body essentially slows down, and this slowdown causes disease, weight gain, and even depression.

How Much Should You Exercise?

Generally speaking, most people should exercise a minimum of 30 minutes a day. Depending on your current fitness level and age there are different recommendations about the intensity.

Here are a few considerations:

New to exercise? Begin with walking at a moderate pace for 30 minutes or more a day. Don’t push the intensity at the beginning.

Walking for exercise? Strive to walk at least 10,000 steps each day. This equates to about five miles a day.

Intermediate exerciser? Exercise at a moderate to intense level. Get your heart rate up into the fat burning zone, which is about a 6-7 on an intensity scale. (A “1” would be not at all intense and “10” would be working as hard as possible.)

Taking fitness to the next level? Once you’re able to exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes a day at a moderate to intense level, you can add time to your workout or strength training.

Types of Exercise to Consider

There are two types of exercise to consider and to integrate into your workout program. They include cardio, which kicks up your breathing and heart rate, and strength. Strength training builds strength in your muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones. Both are great for you, and in combination they’re an excellent weight loss approach.

Cardio exercises include but aren’t limited to:

  • Brisk walking
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Jumping rope
  • Dancing
  • Jogging

Strength Training exercise includes anything that works a large muscle group. For example:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Pull-ups
  • Push-ups
  • Sit-ups
  • Plank
  • Dips

These movements don’t need to be performed with added weight.

Bodyweight is usually quite enough to build strength and burn fat and calories. Before you begin exercising it’s always important to check with your doctor. Make sure that the exercise program you’re using is appropriate for your health and fitness level.

If you’re new to exercise, start small. Set one goal that you know you can achieve and build on it. It’s difficult to make large changes to your lifestyle.

However, if you add five minutes each week to your daily workout, you’ll be able to reach that 30 minute minimum quickly.

This same, one achievable goal at a time, approach can be used to replace bad habits with good ones.

Diet and exercise are an essential part of maintaining a healthy weight and preventing heart disease. There are other habits, however, that can ruin all of your hard work. Let’s explore those habits next.

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