What is heart health?
Our resting heart rate is the number of times our heart beats per minute while we are exerting no energy what so ever. The better our heart health, the lower our resting heart rate. Why is that? Well, the stronger our heart, the more blood it can push around the body with each beat. In other words, it works more efficiently and takes less beats per minute to do its job. The more we exercise to improve our heart health, the lower our resting heart rate, the lower our max heart rate AND the quicker our heart rate returns to resting, post exercise.*
Why heart health?
Many of us train for aesthetic incentive – weight loss, getting leaner, curvier, more muscular. Heart health is not a result we often prioritise, or even think about, yet it’s one of the most important results we can hope for! Better heart health literally means living a longer, healthier and happier life. It also lowers our blood pressure and cholesterol and reduces our risk of heart disease.**
How do we ensure our training is leading to a healthier heart?
The secret to heart health isn’t one particular exercise or workout – it’s finding a type of exercise that you enjoy, then doing it regularly. However, there are a few things you can focus on during your workouts to make sure you’re getting the heart results you’re looking for:
• Ensure you’re exerting enough energy to raise your heart rate during your workouts. This can be done in short, high-intensity intervals with rest (aim for 2-3 times per week), e.g. sprints, or longer steady state exercise, e.g. jogging.
• Prioritise a minimum of 30 active minutes each day. In addition to your high-intensity interval workouts, you should also be making time for daily moderate exercise where your heart rate is raised above resting.
• Increase your NEAT (Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis). This is your day to day movement such as your step count (you should be aiming for 10,000 steps per day at a minimum!). Try taking the stairs or parking a little further away – you’ll be surprised how quickly your steps increase!
• Utilise heart rate technology to track your progress. Heart rate monitors can give you greater insight into just how hard you’re working, how quickly you’re recovering, and get you training at your optimal levels for better results and greater heart health benefits.
For a quick interval session to improve heart health, I can’t go past treadmill sprints. If the treadmill isn’t for you, a cross trainer or bike works just as well.
1. Warm up with a 5-minute jog or low incline walk
2. 2-minute run for distance (steady pace), or medium incline walk
3. 1-minute run for pace (uncomfortable pace), or steep incline walk
4. 30 second sprint (max pace), or increase speed on steep incline walk
5. 1-minute walking recovery
6. Repeat 3-4 times
National Fitness Manager, Anytime Fitness – Kate Allott
With a career spanning 10 years as a dancer, Kate has always been fascinated by human body movement. This active background launched her into a new career in personal training, before moving into the position of National Fitness Manager at Anytime Fitness Australia. Kate’s holistic view of health and fitness is driven by her passion to educate Australians about the link between physical fitness and mental health. For Kate, it’s all about wellness, movement, and doing what you love.