Heart Health and Physical Fitness

What is Cardiovascular Health?

            Heart health, also known as cardiovascular health, can relate to many things. This includes the health of the heart and blood vessels.  Every cell, tissue and organ in the body relies on a strong blood flow and a heart that is working up to its full capacity.  Without a healthy heart vital organs are not getting the oxygen and nutrients that they need to survive.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States with an average of 600,000 deaths per year!That is every 1 in 4 deaths!  If those statistics aren’t intense enough that’s 1 death every 39 seconds caused by cardiovascular disease! These numbers may sound scary but there are a few SMALL things you can do that will help improve your cardiovascular health in a BIGway!

 Improving my Cardiovascular Health: How do I get started?


Getting started is the hardest part and sometimes may feel impossible, but the good news is, it gets easier!  Once you do something enough it becomes a habit.  Breaking a habit doesn’t feel right, like that one evening you didn’t go for your 30 minute jog because the season premiere of your favorite show was on.  All you thought about the next was how you should have just recorded it and stuck to your routine.   Breaking a habit will soon become harder and harder to do.  That is the goal here!

Let us make exercise part of our daily routine, let us feel empty without it and let us crave the satisfaction of a good workout!


Exercise does not have to be dreaded!  Make exercise fun! There are many things that you can do that do not even feel like exercise. 

·         You can play a pick-up game of basketball or any other sport with your friends.

·         Play tag with your kids

·         Go on a hike, just to name a few!


Gyms are not for everyone and there are plenty ofexercises you can do at homewithout having to buy expensive equipment. 

·         Jumping jacks

·         Push-ups

·         Sit-ups

·         Burpees…all FREE! 


 There are so many options when it comes to physical activity; choose what works best for you and mix it up.


It is recommended that you get at least150 minutes of moderate- activity* every week.  150 may sound like a lot but when you break it down it really isn’t too much to ask.  There is a video called 23 ½ Hours, written by Doctor Mike Evans.  Click the link to watch the video! The basic concept of the video is to point out that you have 23 ½ hours a day to do with whatever you want; eat, sleep, hang out with friends and family and go to work (no one actually wants to go to work, but you get the idea.)  All it takes is a ½ hour a day to greatly improve your health.

 It is recommended that you exercise 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.  You can do those 30 minutes at one time or do 3 sets of 10 minutes throughout the day.  For example, you can take three 10 minute brisk walks throughout the day and do so five days out of the week.  There’s your 150 minutes.  Once this moderate-activity becomes fairly easy for you, you can start to add things into your exercise routine like muscle strengthening-activities.*  It is suggested that you do these exercises 2 days a week, substituting  2 days of your moderate-activity.  Eventually adding in vigorous activity* to your exercise routine will be a piece of cake.  Speaking of cake, let’s talk nutrition. 

An easy way to start is by logging everything you eat.  Create a journal; this will help you see exactly what you are putting into your body.  Sometimes we mindless eat things that we shouldn’t and unless we see it on paper we don’t realize what we are consuming every day.  The results of this journal may or may not be shocking, but the point is to see not only what you should cut out of your diet but also to see what your diet is lacking.   


Proper exercise and diet will greatly help reduce your risk of cardiovascular health problems.  You will not be another statistic!  The time to start improving your life is now!



*Moderate-intensity aerobic activity is when you are exercising hard enough to break a sweat and to raise your heart rate.  There are a few ways to tell if you have reached this point, one being if you are able to talk but not sing.  

*Muscle-strengthening activities are activities that work out your bodies major muscle groups, like your legs, back, hips, arms, chest, abdomen and shoulders. 

*Vigorous- intensity aerobic activityis happening when you cannot say more than a couple words without having to pause for a breath of air. Your heart rate will also go up. 

 How a pedometer can help in reaching my goals.


            A sedentary person walks about 1,000 to 3,000 steps a day, it is said that the average person should walk at least 10,000 steps a day.   Just how far is 10,000 steps?  It’s about 5 miles.  This goal of 10,000 steps is almost impossible to keep track of without the help of a pedometer.  A pedometer not only counts your steps for you but it also helps you reach your goals. 


Put the pedometer on when you wake up in the morning and ware it until you go to bed at night.  When you’re about to get into bed take a look at your pedometer and write down the number of steps you took that day, if you haven’t yet reached your goal, take a few laps around your room.  Knowing that you have a certain amount of steps to take every day and seeing it written down in your journal will really help you in keeping that 10,000 step a day goal a reality. 

In a study done by M. Kang in 2009 to learn the effects of using a pedometer, every age group in the study, both male and female increased their daily steps by 2,000 steps a day. (Kang et al., 2009)  Everyone in the study benefited from the use of a pedometer.  10,000 steps may sound like a lot but you will soon realize just how easy it is to take more steps without really changing your daily routine.  


·         Take the stairs instead of the elevator 

·         Park at the end of the parking lot

·         Walk your dog

·         Here’s an easy one, get up to change the channel on the TV

·         Simply take a 10 minute walk around the neighborhood



Technology is advancing and there is now something more hi-tech available that will not only count your steps, but the amount of calories you burn and keep track of your fitness goals.  The Nike+ FuelBand has quickly become very popular.  It turns all of your progress into a point system called Nike Fuel points that can unlock different achievements; you can then share those achievements with your friends and family.  Sharing your progress via Facebook or other social media for everyone to see is a great way to get others motivated as well! 

 Tips on staying motivated and consistent!


            People inherently like to be consistent and to have a routine.  Exercise needs to be a part of this.  This is not a diet; this is a lifestyle.  Now that you know what you need to do, let’s talk about how you can stay focused and consistent.

·         Having a workout buddyisn’t for everyone but it is something you may want to consider if you find yourself having trouble committing to yourself.  When you tell your friend that will go for a run at 6:00pm tonight, you feel obligated to be there.  Both of you may have every excuse in the book not to show up, but in fear of letting someone else down, you both go.

·         If the buddy system just isn’t for you, try setting up a reward system for yourself.  Whether your goal is to take 10,000 steps a day or to lose 20 pounds, make reaching your goal worth your while.  Reward yourself.  If you lose the weight, take yourself on a shopping spree.  You deserve it. 

·         Another simple way to remind yourself to make healthy choices is to set up reminders on your phone or computer.  Depending the amount of motivation you need set the reminder go off weekly or even daily.  Have the reminder state your goal to remind you what’s important, or even write phrases that get you going like, “be a good example for my kids,”  “you WILL wear that bikini next summer” or “be a healthier you,” write anything that will help to keep you on track. 

·         You could also share your goals with a friend or family member.  Have that person ask you about your progress.  Telling someone you are close that there is no progress can be embarrassing.  The fear of that shame alone can help keep you on track. 



You can do this!  Make physical activity and a better diet a part of your life.  It’s not rocket science; it’s WalkIt Science!  A healthier, better you is in the near future!