People often tend to forget that the heart is a muscle—so any exercise that increases your heart rate will make it stronger and reduce your risk of heart disease on the long term. But in order to reap the maximum cardiovascular benefits, Health Canada recommends engaging in moderate activity for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. It’s so easy to protect yourself from the number one killer of Canadian women, cardiovascular disease—so there’s no excuse not to do it!
Pick an activity, any activity
Choose an activity (or several-- the more the better!), that you can get excited about. Walking, jogging, biking, swimming, playing a team sport, all of these are great cardio workouts. The important thing is to pick an activity that you’ll enjoy, and stick to!
Cardio workouts are most beneficial when you are exercising at 50 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate (Target Heart Rate zone ). You can measure this with a heart monitor, or with the Talk Test. Anytime during your workout, you can use conversation to gauge your intensity, just follow the Rate of Perceived Exertion Scale (RPE):
For most workouts, you’d want to be around level 5 or 6. If you can’t talk, then you’re working too hard.
30-minute Heart-Healthy Workout
Here’s a great program that’ll really get your heart pumping. It’s a moderately paced workout, sprinkled with high intensity spurts, which will train your heart to work more efficiently.
You can do it on any machine (treadmill, stationary bike, cross-trainer, etc.) and even outdoors; just adjust your pace, and/or resistance or incline, until you are working out at the right intensity (RPE).
Remember to hydrate yourself before, after and during your workout, and to stop all activity if you start to feel dizzy or light-headed. Always consult a doctor before engaging in physical activity or when starting a new workout program.
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