People want to work out for various reasons. Some want to look more toned, flatten their belly, and get stronger. These changes are exciting because they are visible, and we often see images that make these appear to be the most important goal of fitness. Some people just want to be healthier and live a long and active life. For both of these groups, there is actually one muscle in particular that is the most important to train, that should have a top priority in both getting fit and living a healthy life.
Your heart is the absolute most important muscle in your body. Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans and could be prevented in most cases by regular heart training. Left untrained, the heart can impact your life the most. An untrained heart makes it difficult to accomplish any task more challenging than sitting in a chair. An untrained heart can lead to a life with limited opportunity for adventure and activities, and instead leave you dealing with myriad health problems. Not only will training your heart prevent killers like heart disease, but it will give you a ton more energy and capability to engage in the activities you love.
All heart training requires is activities that get you breathing heavy and elevate your pulse. You can do this outside on the trails, on the tennis courts, or in the gym. A good baseline to shoot for is activities that elevate your breathing for at least 2.5 hours each week. If your activities are mostly moderate to high intensity, like a run or a singles tennis match, then you can accomplish the same benefits in less time.
There are many ways to get these in. Five sessions on the treadmill, or a power walk around the neighborhood, a cardio tennis class and a strength circuit class. You don’t even have to do it all at once in the same day. You can have a 20-minute workout followed by a short walk later in the day and still meet your needs.
I’ve listed a sample workout program below, but if you want more ideas, email me or find me in the halls or after class!
Here is an example of a weekly program you can try, for all the benefits of consistent heart training:
Monday: 30 Minute Treadmill
Tuesday: Tennis, Soccer, or Long Walk
Thursday: 30 Minute Treadmill
If you don’t currently have a heart training routine, try this out! You will feel more energized, sleep better, and fend off all sorts of future health problems.