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The Power of Your Heart

There are many well-known health benefits associated with regular participation in physical activity including:


  • Lower risk of heart disease
  • Weight gain prevention
  • Lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Lower risk of cancer
  • Reduced level of depression
  • Weight loss
  • Lower risk of high blood pressure
  • Lower risk of stroke

What you might not know is the remarkable capacity of the body to adapt to exercise.  Exercise creates physiological adaptations to the heart, helping it pump blood more efficiently therefore; allowing it to accomplish more, with less exertion. The more you exercise, the more efficient your heart becomes. This is called “adaptation”.

Facts about the heart:

  • At an average resting heart rate of 70 beats per minute, the heart can comfortably (average fitness level and no heart disease) perform at twice its resting value. The average adult can train between 122-181 beats per minute.
  • The amount of blood pumped by the heart can increase as much as 50-60% above resting values to meet the demands of exercise.
  • The average adult pumps about 5 liters of blood per minute. When exercising, the amount of blood your heart pumps can increase to almost eight times its resting value. A sedentary person will give a cardiac output of 20-22 liters per minute while an elite athlete will exhibit an output of 35-40 liters per minute.

Stroke Volume

Increased stroke volume (the amount of blood pumped through the heart) is a training effect of aerobic exercise and allows a fit individual to pump more blood per beat, resulting in a lower heart rate during a workout.

You may have experienced this when starting a training program. In the beginning, you might have been gasping for breath and not able to keep up with the intensity. As your program progresses, your breathing and stroke volume becomes more efficient, allowing you to breathe easier, hence maximize your performance.

This is why less fit individuals may have a harder time making it up a flight of stairs or walking across a parking lot while for a fit person – it’s just a way of life. For inactive people, their lungs and heart cannot handle the oxygen demands required for performing the exercise. They can’t get it to their organs fast enough.

CO2 Output

When you increase maximum blood flow to pump blood more efficiently it saturates your blood with oxygen and removes CO2 efficiently. Removing CO2 at a higher rate increases your performance and gives you greater aerobic power. As your body becomes more efficient with exercise, it is able to extract oxygen from the blood more quickly.

As much as 88% of your blood flow during exercise is directed to the muscles (active tissues)! The more you exercise, the higher the number of capillaries you build in your muscle fiber, which means more oxygen in your muscles (faster!) and increased fuel storage.

So what does this mean?

As your fitness level improves and your rate of breathing becomes more efficient, you are able to deliver more oxygen throughout your body more quickly. You can accomplish more, with less exertion, at a higher level of performance.

Be good to your heart and it will show you the love in return.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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Getting Back On The Exercise Wagon And Staying On It!

It has happened to all of us – and often before we even realize it.  One week you miss your workouts due to a busy schedule, and then the next week you skip because you don’t feel well.  Before you know it, a month has passed by and your laces haven’t seen any action. Months may even turn into years.  Once you stop fitting exercise into your life, it may seem hard to find time for it again. You may not remember how you ever found time for it in the first place.  But don’t throw in the towel!  You can start again and find the time.  Here are some tips to get you going again:

 1)         Stop beating yourself up for quitting – Just Start!  Forget about the lost days and months – you can’t get them back, but you can change the days to come.  And you are not as far gone as you think.  All that earlier work created a foundation that is waiting to be drawn out.  Muscles do have memory.

2)         Define and write down your WHY.  There will be days when you are tired and not in the mood, so it helps to have something powerful to remind you why you started in the first place.  It should be something motivating that stirs an emotional reaction, and probably needs to be more powerful than just fitting into those skinny jeans (although that can be part of the reason!).  Think of your life long wellness and how exercise can lead to a healthy and longer life.


 3)         Write down your goals.  Studies have shown that people who write down their goals are much more likely to obtain them.  Just ensure that they are realistic and achievable. When you first set a goal, you’re full of energy and completely motivated, but over time those feelings can wane and your overzealousness can push you to do too much too soon. The fix is to define a progressive set of goals that build on one another to help propel you toward that big goal. Breaking a big goal into smaller, realistic goals can help you both mentally and physically. For example, start with weekly goals such as a certain number of visits to the gym or minutes of exercise a day, rather than a six month goal of losing 40 pounds.

4)         Try something new.  This is especially helpful if boredom was one of the reasons that you fell off the wagon in the first place.  Today’s fitness options are varied and almost limitless. In most areas, you can choose among boot camps, CrossFit, Zumba, kick boxing, Bar Method, spinning, yoga and running groups, as well as many other options.  If you want to start out at home, there is an excellent supply of home DVD videos.  If you really need to be accountable to someone, consider hiring a personal trainer.

5)         Join a challenge!  These are not hard to find.  Look for local 5K runs or short distance triathlons.  You can check out your gym for contests and even workplaces are getting into the game as they see the benefits of healthy employees.  These will require determination and hard work, but you will be surprised how much fun you have and how many people you meet.

6)         Look beyond the scale.  If weight loss is your main goal, don’t rely entirely on the numbers of the scale.  It is common for exercisers to lose fat and gain muscle without a change in body weight, so it is important to look beyond the scale. Notice how your clothes fit and how your body feels stronger.  You should also feel your increased energy level and overall better mood, as exercise has been proven to boost both of these.

Falling off the wagon happens to everyone.  Stop worrying about what happened in the past and look forward.  The first step back on is the hardest and requires motivation, but soon it will become habit and that will keep you going.

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20 Healthy Things You Can Do For Yourself Today…In 10 Minutes or Less

1. Drink 8-12 oz of water first thing in the morning – helps empty your bowels, flush out toxins and hydrate you for the first part of the day

2. Straighten your posture and lower your shoulders – releases tension and stress, resets your spine and strengthens your core10 min

3. Take a probiotic to balance the bacteria in your stomach – remarkable healing powers

4. Replace your sugar snack with a protein snack – lite cheese stick, nuts, peanut butter, Greek yogurt, egg…helps build muscle throughout the day and keep your sugar levels balanced

5. Resist the impulse purchase of a candy bar and eat fruit instead – the benefits of fresh fruit far outweigh the sugar high and crash from a processed candy bar…and you will be fuller, longer

6. Sprinkle your food with organic 100% whole ground flaxseed – provides high fiber, protein, lignans (antioxidants) & omega-3’s (healthy, beneficial fats)

7. Eat slowly – pause 2 seconds between bites…helps you eat less, realize you are fuller, quicker and helps you digest your food more efficiently

8. Conquer a fear – provides an amazing sense of accomplishment and encourages you to challenge yourself even more

9. Climb the stairs – works your quads, hamstrings, butt and heart

10. Drink a skim latte with cinnamon (1 sugar/syrup pump or less) – high dose of protein, healthy caffeine & cinnamon to raise your metabolism

11. Tell someone how good they look– the reward from making someone feel good is worth every second

12. Have oatmeal for a healthy breakfast or snack – perfect balance of complex carbs, protein and fat and will keep you full for hours

13. Ask for your salad dressing on the side – salad dressing can sabotage a healthy lunch with high fat, empty calories and chemicals – dip your fork in first, then take a bite of salad

14. Take a slow, deep breath and exhale. Repeat. – it will reset your mind and stress level

15. Wake up 10 minutes earlier so you don’t have to rush – imagine how much calm you will add to your morning

16. Park far away from where you have to go and walk there briskly – gets in a quick cardio burst and fills your lunges with fresh air (while you are at it, return the cart too) 😉

17. Stand up and stretch – hold each stretch for at least 6 seconds, repeat…really try to elongate your spine – helps stretch your muscles and reset your body

18. Squeeze your buttocks whenever you stand and hold the contraction – this full body isometric hold will tighten your butt and strengthen your abs – wait until you see the results in lift!

19. While watching TV, do as many push-ups as you can during the commercials – will strengthen your upper body and core and keep you from going to the cabinet for a snack (it’s ok to drop to your knees)

20. Have sex – helps improve your immune system, counts as exercise, releases endorphins and Oxycontin to eliminate stress, anxiety and depression and helps you sleep better!

To be continued…

  • Debra

    My favorite is #18!!

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