Your heart muscle is, arguably, one of the hardest working muscles in your body. Each day, your heart pumps 100,000 times, circulating your blood a whopping 12,000 miles. Given your heart’s extraordinary workload, it’s important that your heart muscle is up to the task.
While strengthening your heart muscle may not seem as obvious as strengthening your triceps, there are effective ways that you can give your heart a beneficial workout.
To get you started, Dr. Satjit Bhusri and the team here at Upper East Side Cardiology want to present a few tips that go a long way toward preventive cardiology.
Know your target heart rate
One of the keys to getting started is to familiarize yourself with your heart rate and your target heart rate. To determine your resting heart rate, you can simply place your fingers on your wrist and count the pulses for 60 seconds. You should do this when your body is completely at rest and the number should fall between 60 and 100.
Now you need to figure out your target heart rate for giving your heart muscle a good workout, which falls between 50% and 85% of your maximum heart rate. To calculate your maximum heart rate, you can simply deduct your age from 220.
Once you have that number, you should aim to exercise in a way that brings your heart rate to within 50-85% of your maximum rate.
We know these numbers can be confusing, and we want to supply you with a link here that can help. As well, the myriad wearable fitness devices that are available today are a great investment for measuring your heart rate and tracking your health.
Exercising within your target heart rate
The reason why it’s important to know your target heart rate is that you want to get your heart pumping at that level in order to boost the strength of your cardiac muscle. We suggest that you get to your target heart rate through moderate-intensity aerobic activity for at least 150 minutes per week.
Better still, we suggest that you throw in some high-intensity aerobic workouts throughout the week — even for just 15 minutes, four times a week.
By switching between moderate- and high-intensity aerobic levels, you’re essentially using interval training to strengthen your heart muscle.
Other steps to strengthen your heart
While exercise is the best way to strengthen your heart muscle, there are a few other steps that you can take, such as:
- Limiting salt in your diet (it can lead to hypertension)
- Quitting smoking
- Limiting alcohol
- Avoiding sitting for prolonged periods
On this last one, if you’re at a desk for much of the day, make sure you get up every hour or so and move around.
If you have more questions about ways you can strengthen your all-important heart muscle, please contact our New York City office on the Upper East Side to schedule an appointment.