A Healthy Heart & Lungs
A strong, slow steady heartbeat is the foundation of a healthy body. A strong cardiovascular system is essential for the delivery of oxygen to the cells, the ability of the cells to use oxygen, and for the blood vessels to carry away waste products. Without adequate oxygen, every organ in the body suffers. To improve oxygen delivery, you must build cardiovascular fitness by means of regular exercise.
The heart is a muscle the pumps blood throughout the body. As a muscle, it is made stronger by aerobic exercise that increases heart rate – such as walking, skipping, biking, even jumping rope – increases the hearts ability to supply more oxygen with less effort.
To increase aerobic capacity, it is necessary to work the heart a minimum of twenty to thirty minutes three times a week. I advise my patients to take thirty minute walks and least three times a week. I recommend that they walk as briskly as possible but not to jog or run; walk at a pace at which they are not too winded to carry on a conversation.
For many years, physical trainers believed that effective aerobic exercise had to be performed at near-optimum or optimum training rate, which is 60 to 80 percent of our maximum heart rate. To calculate this rate, subtract your age from 220, then calculate 60 percent and 80 percent of that figure. For example, if you are 40 years old, your maximum heart rate is 80% of 180, or 144; and the lower heart rate would be 60%, or 108. Consequently, you should exercise at your optimum rate – between 108 and 144 beats. To track you heart rate, trainers tell you to take your pulse fro ten seconds while exercising, then multiply that by six to get the heart rate per minute.
That’s a lot to keep track of, and I feel it is totally unnecessary for our purposes. My goal for my patients is to exercise to increase oxygen to the skin, not train for the next triathlon. In my experience, regimented, intensive exercise programs create enough problems and stresses of their own. If the exercise is too demanding, many people either develop sports-related injuries, or abandon a program that is too time-consuming. Over exercising can trigger the release of cortisol – the stress hormone that accelerates aging. The key to an appropriate routine is regular activity that slowly and steadily builds aerobic strength. It is always better to have regular, moderate exercise than sporadic, sweat-drenched workouts.
As an active researcher, I welcome your comments and suggestions.