By Jordan Gelber
There are millions of city folks who primarily walk for fitness thinking that they are receiving enough fitness and health benefits to improve cardiovascular efficiency and are frustrated that their bodies have not changed for the better. In fact, there are many people who walk five miles a day who are still not fit, nor do they ever attain the body they desire. In order to receive enough health and heart benefits, it’s the intensity (how hard we’re working) that dictates our improvements to our overall fitness and hence, our cardiovascular system as well.
So, I’ve enlisted the expertise of NYC’s top fitness expert Edward Jackowski, Ph.D. and the author of seven books on fitness & motivation and whose firm Exude Fitness, www.exude.com is located right here in Manhattan.
Edward says “I’m not saying for people to stop walking. What I’m trying to get everyone to realize is that WALKING can be one aspect, one part of “fitness.” In fact, NO ONE exercise in and of itself is considered fitness. Walking is a form or mode of aerobic exercise, but you still need to address ALL the components of fitness in order to become truly fit and make your heart stronger and burn enough calories in order to lose weight. The five components that comprise fitness are; aerobic capacity, muscle endurance, muscle strength, flexibility and body ratio. Not only do these five components have to be present each and every time you exercise, you must improve or increase in each of these areas in order to keep receiving the health and fitness benefits that fitness offers.”
In order to derive heart and aerobic benefits during exercise, you need to be exercising within 65 – 85% of your maximum heart rate for at least 20-30 minutes, 3-5 days per week. So, if you’re 40 years old, that means you need to be working (exercising) hard enough to sustain a heart rate of 220 – 40 = 180 X .60 to 180 X .85 which means that your heart rate needs to be beating at least 117 Beats Per Minute (BPM) to 153 BPM in order to derive both cardiovascular and fitness benefits. That’s why when you walk to and from work every day or take a leisurely stroll, unless you’re sweating, it is doing very little if anything to help strengthen your cardiovascular system. And, it will do even less to help your overall fitness level as well.
Please also remember Edward says, “that as you become more fit and your aerobic capacity improves, you also need to workout at the higher end towards the 85% because your system is now stronger and it will now take less energy and work to perform the same exercise today than it did let’s say a few months ago.” For example, if you bike or jog a few miles and your heart rate when you first started out and averaged 140 BPM, now, a few months later, that same jog only gets your heart rate up to 120 BPM, you now are more aerobically fit and as a result, need to either increase your speed of jogging, incline and/or time (duration) to get your heart rate back up to 140 BPM. If you stay at 120BPM, you also will not burn as many calories, so increasing your intensity is a vital component to improving your aerobic capacity and strengthening your heart as well.
Below, please find the Best Exercises to improve your cardiovascular system and to lose weight: Jumping rope, Jogging/running, Cross country skiing, Stationary biking, Swimming, Rowing, Stairmaster
And don’t forget to get your physician’s approval before performing these or any exercises.
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