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Get back in the (cardio) zone

Where to start for a healthier heart.

Article Author: Juice Staff

Article Date:

diverse family gets in the cardio zone while jogging together
You can get back in your cardio zone and protect your heart while you exercise.

Life gets crazy sometimes. We don't always have time for exercise. If your routine got sidelined by time constraints or an injury, the good news is you can get back on track.

"Deconditioning can occur after a few days of inactivity, but it can be reversed fairly easily with exercise," said Chetan Hampole, MD, FACC, a cardiologist with Baptist Heart Specialists.  

So, how can you get back in the zone?

Getting into the cardio zone means adding in aerobic exercise, which makes your heart beat more rapidly to meet the demands of the body's movement.

"It's best to start with a moderate workout three times per week," recommended Dr. Hampole.

Over time, regular aerobic activity makes your heart and cardiovascular system stronger and fitter.

How often do I need to exercise? 

Aerobic activity can be spread throughout the week. Exercising at least three days a week may help to reduce the risk of injury and avoid excessive fatigue.

"To improve cardiovascular fitness, you should do both moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity for at least 10 consecutive minutes. Exercising for this duration can lower risk factors for heart disease and type 2 diabetes," Dr. Hampole explained.

When you do the equivalent of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week (30 minutes, five days a week), the benefits include lower risk of:

  • Premature death

  • Heart disease

  • Stroke

  • High blood pressure

  • Type 2 diabetes

  • Depression

As you increase from 150 minutes a week to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week, you can lower your risk of colon and breast cancer and prevent unhealthy weight gain.

"For example, a person who exercises for 5 hours a week has an even lower risk of heart disease or diabetes than a person who does 150 minutes a week," Dr. Hampole said.

How hard do I need to exercise? 

The guidelines for adults focus on two levels of intensity: moderate and vigorous. You can do either or a combination of both.

It takes less time to get the same benefit from vigorous-intensity activities than it does from moderate-intensity activities. A general rule of thumb is that two minutes of moderate-intensity activity counts the same as one minute of vigorous-intensity activity.

"Thirty minutes of brisk walking is roughly the same as 15 minutes of running," says Dr. Hampole.

What are some examples of aerobic exercises?

Moderate-intensity activities include: 

  • Walking briskly (but not racewalking)

  • Water aerobics

  • Bicycling, slower than 10 mph

  • Playing tennis (doubles)

  • Ballroom dancing

  • Gardening

Ready to take it up a notch? Here are examples of vigorous-intensity exercises: 

  • Racewalking, jogging or running

  • Swimming laps

  • Playing tennis (singles)

  • Aerobic dancing

  • Bicycling 10 miles per hour or faster

  • Jumping rope

  • Hiking up a hill or with a heavy backpack

"Think of exercise as medicine," said Dr. Hampole. "It's a prescription that has unlimited refills and puts you in charge of your health."

Take control of your health

Looking for additional health and wellness resources to stay in shape? Our Y Healthy Living Centers offer a variety of programs to help you take control of your health and wellbeing.

About Y Healthy Living Centers

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