Probably every person has a story about how cardiovascular disease has affected their lives. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States even though many of the known risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease are modifiable. Prevention is key, and that includes prevention of further damage once you’ve been diagnosed. It is never too late to live heart healthy!
Physical activity is arguably the most important modifiable risk factor to developing cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association is a great resource for physical activity recommendations for adults and children http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/. Recommendations for physical activity specifically to prevent cardiovascular disease include 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity (50-70% of maximum heart rate) or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity (70-85% of maximum heart rate) per week.
To calculate your maximum heart rate simply subtract your age from 220. For example, a 45 year old individual will take 220 – 45 to get a maximum heart rate of 175 beats per minute.
To find your target heart rate, simply multiply your maximum heart rate by the maximum heart rate percentage you’re aiming for. For example, if the 45 year old individual is wanting to exercise at a moderate intensity, or 50 – 70% of their maximum heart rate, they would simply multiply 175×0.5=88 for the lower range and 175×0.7=123 for the upper limit. Then monitor your heart rate during exercise to try to keep it in that target range.
These recommendations are a great place to start. If you’re looking for a more personalized approach to fitness and heart disease prevention, visit any gym with ACSM certified personal trainers or contact your primary care provider for resources.
In addition to healthy amounts of physical activity, a sensible diet and maintaining a healthy weight are both very important components to living heart healthy.
As always, check with your primary care provider before beginning any exercise program. More on living a heart healthy lifestyle can be found at:
~ Anne, B.S., Exercise Physiology