Rising to Improve Cardiovascular Health

After doing a quick (30 minutes), fun and effective cardio session at Rise Nation in Miami today, I had to share this new and easy way to get that workout in that you are always too busy and out of time to do.

Rise Nation offers a high intensity, interval cardio session on Versa Climber machines. I was excited to try a class at Rise Nation because I was looking for a new low-impact cross-training activity to do when I want to give my knees a break from running. Of course, however, I didn’t want to sacrifice the quality of my workout by training below my optimal target heart rate. So, when I learned that I could get the same quality workout without stressing my knees, in only 30 minutes, I was open to give it a try.

I advocate for us women getting more physical activity in our lives not only to keep in great shape, but also because it is beneficial to our cardiovascular health. Cardiovascular disease has been identified as a leading cause of death in women in the United States. However, in addition to good nutrition, exercise helps to improve overall cardiovascular health and our primary excuse- time- is not as big of an issue as we may think.

In other words, although many busy professional women find it hard to incorporate exercise into their daily routines, training smarter and not necessarily longer within your “target heart rate” can resolve your time constraint concerns. I burned as many calories in half the time in my class at Rise Nation as I would burn in a 60-minute cardio session and I am certain that this has a lot to do with how effectively the workout kept me in my target heart rate zone.

The American Heart Association makes the following time recommendations to improve overall cardiovascular health:

  • 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week; OR,
  • 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week; OR
  • A combination of both; AND
  • Moderate to high intensity muscle strengthening activity at least 2 days per week.

As you can see, not much time is needed for each session, but oftentimes we tend to believe that dedicating longer times to each workout will lead to faster results because we tend to only commit to exercising when we want to lose weight. Therefore, the key here is to exercise more efficiently within your target heart rate, which does necessarily equate to exercising longer.

So how do you make sure that you are training within your “target heart rate” zone?

  1. First, determine your resting heart rate. Adults should be within 60-100 beats per minute. Trained athletes are usually within 40-60 beats per minute. The best time to check your resting heart rate is in the morning before getting out of bed.
  2. Second, determine your maximum heart rate, which is the limit of what your cardiovascular system can handle during physical activity. This is usually 220 minus your age.
  3. Third, determine your target heart rate zone. This zone for moderately intense activity is 50-69% of your maximum heart rate, and for hard physical activity is about 70%-90% less of your maximum heart rate.

Knowing these numbers is essential to an efficient and effective exercise routine, because you will get the best results from aerobic exercise by staying within 55-85% of your maximum heart rate during your workouts.   Therefore, if you have limited time to exercise, you can still reap the benefits of longer cardiovascular activity, by doing a shorter burst of activity that is within your target heart rate zone.

In sum, besides consuming a heart healthy diet, the key to maintaining good cardiovascular health involves including an effective exercise regimen in which less, can really be more. As long as you are medically able, try pushing yourself to that target heart rate zone in your next exercise session, and if you are in the Miami area, take advantage of the opening specials that Rise Nation is now offering.  Remember, if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you!