So, first things first. What exactly does cardiovascular mean and how do you optimize it?
Cardiovascular refers to your heart and your blood vessels. It is of paramount importance that you do everything in your power to optimize the health of your CV system. If you don’t look after your CV system then you’ll likely encounter many health issues over the coming years.
You will leave yourself susceptible to certain diseases and conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels. Some of these diseases include arteriosclerosis, coronary artery disease, heart valve disease, arrhythmia, heart failure, and hypertension to name but a few!
You don’t want to be getting any of those nasties! It’s time to get serious and look after yourself now by trying some or all of the following ways to improve your cardiovascular health…
1. Lower your resting blood pressure to below 120/80
Keeping your blood pressure at healthy levels is the best defence you have at preventing heart diseases. High blood pressure is also called hypertension so if this is something you have you need to get to work on it immediately.
Eat your fruit and veg – Getting all your vitamins and minerals is of great importance to your heart health. Green leafy veg especially is full of heart-friendly iron.
Limit sodium – Try to limit your intake of salt to a minimum. Try not to add it to foods as something extra. The less salt, the greater the fall in blood pressure.
Go easy on alcohol – Try to have it only as a treat and every once in a while as opposed to having it regularly. Alcohol can severely inhibit your calorie burning and is full of unhealthy calories.
2. High intensity strength training (HIST)
Strength training for CV health isn’t just a case of slogging a few weights around.
Using high intensities allows some very important things to happen.
Firstly it releases adrenaline into your system. This dilates your arteries in your muscles and that in turn means more blood can get to them.
HIST lowers peripheral vascular resistance thus allowing more blood to be pumped from your heart (increased cardiac output).
The intense muscle contraction achieved from the high intensity increases venous blood flow back to your heart. This helps your heart work more efficiently and means it’s stronger at doing what it does best!
3. Do your cardio!
Proof is in the word cardio-vascular health! Performing your cardio, when done effectively is an excellent way to strengthen the heart.
Your heart is a muscle, which needs to be worked like any other in order to remain strong. Cardio will get your heart pumping at a faster rate on a regular basis so you will keep it in shape and healthy.
Working out in your target “heart rate zone” is the best way to guarantee you’re actually benefitting from the cardio. You should be aiming to reach between 50-85% of your maximum predicted heart rate.
To calculate your target heart rate zone you can use the following calculation:
220 – Age = Maximum Heart Rate (bpm)
It is important you enter this zone because the whole point is to exercise your heart so you want it to be working, therefore your workout needs to be relatively challenging.
4. Keep at a healthy weight
One of the main causes of poor CV health and heart disease is obesity. With excess weight comes excess problems and a build up of plaque in your arteries. Being overweight can cause type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Eating healthy foods and keeping trans fats and processed foods down to a minimum is a great way to take control of your CV health. If you are over weight the first thing on your list should be slim down and get rid of the excess body fat.
Bad day? Don’t let it get to you!
Stress is pretty bad for your heart health and is a huge risk factor for getting CV related diseases such as heart attacks, high blood pressure and even irritable bowel syndrome.
Stress can also have a snowball effect, as you get stressed this can cause you to comfort eat or adopt behaviors to cope such as drinking and smoking.
De-stress any way you can by taking time to have a lie down away from all the hustle and bustle, listen to some music or meditate. Meditation is an excellent way to bring down stress levels and make your heart a little bit happier!
Keeping on top of your CV health is of great importance.
Make sure you do everything you can for your ticker, a healthy heart makes for a healthier you!