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Give Your Heart Some Love

February 12, 2015 by Normand Richard, Certified Exercise Physiologist

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The month of February is associated with love which, we think, brings up a good time to talk about the very hard-working and important muscle also associated with love – the heart. Because of its location and shape, we sometimes forget that the heart is a muscle (that never rests as a matter of fact). And like other muscles, it needs regular moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity to stay healthy.If you don’t have existing health problems and are currently active, aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week. These intensities should feel like:

  • Moderate-intensity: You are breathing harder but can still talk. On a scale of 1-10 this is a 4-6/10. Examples of moderate-intensity physical activities are brisk walking, cycling on flat terrain, and gardening.
  • Vigorous-intensity: There is a greater increase in your breathing, your heart is beating faster, and you can only say a few words at a time. On a scale of 1-10 this is a 7-8/10. Examples of vigorous-intensity physical activities are jogging, cycling on hills outdoors or in a spin class, and swimming laps at a fast pace.

If You Are New to Physical Activity

Small bouts of exercise are beneficial. Start by choosing an activity you enjoy and slowly add more physical activity into your daily routine. Here are suggestions and more advice.

Caution: Always talk to your doctor or qualified exercise professional before beginning a new exercise program.

If You Have Suffered a Heart Event

Even those who have suffered or are at risk of a heart event (i.e., heart attack), can benefit from exercise. In the past, it was recommended to allow the heart “rest”. Over time, doctors and scientists have found that gradual and custom tailored exercise actually helps the heart get stronger after an event. There are now exercises classes made specifically to strengthen the heart following an event.

Did you know? Meeting Canada's physical activity guidelines may reduce the risk of a heart event by 30-40 %!

This February, don’t just focus on the emotions of the heart. Give that very important muscle of yours a “hearty” dose of exercise to keep it strong and healthy. Call the Physical Activity Line at 1-877-725-1149 or comment below if you have questions for more advice on getting active.


Related Blog:

St. Valentine Cares About Your Heart Health
Double the Fun, Be Active With Your Loved One

Recommended Resources:

Heart and Stroke Foundation: February is Heart Month
HealthLinkBC: Heart Health

 

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