By Jeff Tomaszewski, Chief Life Transformer, MaxStrength Fitness
When you think of February, what comes to mind? Chocolate? Roses? Love?
This February, we’re thinking about your heart—and not a chocolate filled cardboard heart. February is heart health month and it is a great opportunity to take stock of the health of your heart and what you can do to make it even healthier.
First, the facts:
If you ask typical Americans what disease they fear most, they will likely say cancer. And cancer is a deadly disease, killing hundreds of thousands of people each year. But there is a killer even more prevalent than cancer: Heart Disease.
According to the CDC, heart disease is the number one killer in America. In fact, more women die from heart disease than all forms of cancer combined! And men are 2 to 5 times more likely to have coronary heart disease than premenopausal women. But once women reach menopause, their risk is similar to a man’s. The facts speak for themselves: heart disease is an even greater threat than cancer.
But now for the good news. Heart disease is nearly 95% preventable! YES, PREVENTABLE!
Are you taking care of your heart?
Exercise is a critical part of having a healthy heart. The benefits of a well-designed cardiovascular training routine are pretty obvious, but what many don’t realize is how important strength training is for heart health. Exercise such as strength training not only builds muscle and helps keep your weight down, it also makes your heart stronger so it does not have to work as hard to supply your body with life-giving oxygen.
Weight control. Being overweight puts you at high risk for heart disease. When you are carrying around excess fat, your heart has to work harder. It enlarges as it works harder, and as it enlarges, it become less efficient. Eventually, this reduction in efficiency culminates in heart disease. As you strength train, however, you increase the muscle mass in your body, which helps to burn off extra fat, easing the burden on your heart.
Strong heart. High-Intensity Strength Training, like we do at MaxStrength Fitness, also increases your heart rate, which pushes your heart to become more efficient and causes you to grow more capillaries. The end result is a heart that is so strong and efficient that it has to do less work to supply your body with oxygen. You will have lower blood pressure as well, because your arteries will be supple and smooth—blood will flow through them easily. And the extra capillaries in your body will make it easy for oxygen and nutrients to be transported throughout your entire body, giving you more energy and better health.
After analyzing data from nearly 13,000 adults, researchers found that those who did strength training had a much lower risk of heart attack and stroke, dying from heart-related causes, and dying early from any cause than those who didn’t do any strength training. The strength trainers also had lower risk of harmful cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and large waistline. The best part? There’s no need to live in the weight room; the heart-health benefits were seen with less than an hour of strength training a week! Find a certified trainer and learn a simple, efficient routine using machines, free weights, or your own body weight, and do at least two sessions a week. Your whole body, including your heart, will benefit.