February is American Heart Month. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year approximately 715,000 Americans have a heart attack and about 600,000 people die from heart disease in the U.S.; that’s one out of every four deaths. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, but it is preventable and controllable. You can start by taking small steps every day. The CDC recommends a plan for prevention, including a healthy diet, weight management, regular exercise, blood pressure checks, cessation of smoking, limited alcohol use and cholesterol checks. The professionals at the Vail Vitality Center also recommend these tactics:
High-intensity interval training has been scientifically proven to improve cardiovascular fitness and general heart health. Interval training is bouts of high-intensity exercise surrounded by periods of recovery. An interval workout is always preceded by a mindful warm-up and followed with an intentional cool-down. Accuracy is best controlled by wearing a heart rate monitor. Generally during the “on” segments, you should work hard enough to go anaerobic — faster than your lactate threshold, which is approximately 70 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate. The pace is uncomfortable. During the “off” period the heart rate slows and recovers. I invite you to join me for a fun outdoor intervals session at the Vail Vitality Center. All abilities and ages are welcome.
Ellen Miller, Vail Vitality Center cardio coach and women’s U.S. Mountain Running Team coach
Take a well-rounded approach
As we all know, practicing good health has many benefits. Perhaps the most important benefit is the impact on the heart. In addition to a well-prescribed exercise plan from your trainer, it is imperative to practice good nutrition. There are numerous studies available worldwide that link a diet rich in fruits and vegetables to heart longevity. In addition to training, Pilates and your outdoor activities, consider modifying your diet to achieve a well-rounded approach to the health of your heart.
Angela Muzic, Vail Vitality Center professional trainer and Pilates, yoga and dance specialist
Heart health can be greatly improved by participating in a prescribed resistance training program. Resistance training, if done appropriately, puts good stress on the heart and the entire body. Losing weight and improving metabolism plays a big part in improving heart health. A great way all people can lose weight is by building lean muscle, which burns fat. Full body resistance training is an effective way to do this and should be part of a well-rounded exercise and diet plan. Resistance training directly impacts the heart by elevating heart rate and allowing the heart to pump blood more rapidly to supply working muscles.
Blake Gould, Vail Vitality Center professional trainer and rehabilitation specialist