PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND INTERVAL WORKOUT
Physical activity benefits
The benefits of healthy life habits on a person’s health, including regular physical activity, have been known for a long time.
Hippocrates, traditionally considered as the “father of medicine” once suggested, more than 400 years B.C. that regular physical activity was beneficial for the health; accumulated evidence over the years confirmed these benefits.
In the 1950s, an English researcher demonstrated that a two-story bus driver, staying in a sitting position all day, had more cardiovascular events than someone who collected tickets while going up and down staircases.
More recently, it was demonstrated that it is possible to reduce the mortality risk by 10 to 25 % for every “METS” gained in physical form. The “METS” are a measure of the capacity for an individual to use oxygen. Briefly, the better the capacity a person has to attain a high number of METS during effort, the more “in shape” is this person.
Example of needs in “METS”
Activities destined to personal care demand an equivalent of at least 5 “METS”.
On the other hand, a high-level tennis player can reach more than 20 “METS” during a game.
The examination of the treadmill gives its result considering the achieved heart rate and the number of "METS" realized.
A worthwhile investment
Exercising is even more beneficial in sedentary individuals who are in bad physical shape: those unable to perform at a level 5 METS.
A large-scale impact
Regularly practicing physical activity has many benefits. It contributes to reduce the cholesterol level and the blood pressure. It allows for a better control of the sugar in the blood and it helps maintain weight. It also reduces the risk of suffering from diabetes while aging.
Globally, we notice a lower premature death rate. The risk of suffering from heart diseases and certain cancers is also reduced.
Without forgetting the slowing of aging
Physical exercise practiced regularly may also contribute to slow certain effects related to aging. We noticed, among others, a significant reduction of falls and of cognitive deterioration. Exercising may also help people suffering from mental illnesses, like depression or anxiety.
Especially if your heart is sick
If you are already suffering from a heart disease, physical activity adapted to your condition may be very beneficial. Regular exercising after a cardiac event, like a heart attack, may reduce by 25% the risks of another heart problem, including living longer.
It goes without saying, however, that the program must be adapted to your heart condition and to your level of fitness.
Aerobic workout methods: continued or intervals?
The international medical societies recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity per week.
This may be attained by cumulating 10-minute or more periods of exercise.
Do not let yourself get discouraged!
It has been proven that any form of physical activity will always benefit somehow. “A little exercise is always better than none at all!”
Continuous workout consists of maintaining a constant intensity while exercising. It’s the most know and popular workout method. We normally recommend working out at 60 to 80% of your maximum capacity.
Calculate your maximum heart rate for your age
We can calculate your maximum heartbeat using a formula. To know your maximum, use the following equation: 220 minus your age.
For example, for a 60 year old person, the calculation would be the following: 220 – 60 = 160.
This person’s should therefore limit his or her workout to a heartbeat somewhere between 95 to 130 beats per minute.
A workout to sweat
Basically, during effort, you should feel hot and a little out of breath. You should still be able to talk during the activity, however.
The activity of your choice
Many different types of activities may easily allow you to attain this level. Walking at a good pace, jogging, biking or swimming, it’s a question of personal preferences.
Interval workouts (HIIT)
Well known by high level athletes for a long time, high intensity intervals training (HIIT) is becoming more and more popular with all level athletes.
Switch between intense and light efforts
This method consists of alternating between short, high intensity activity, that is more than 85% of maximum capacity, and small intensity activity or rest.
This method offers many advantages. The main ones are a more rapid improvement in your maximum performance (known as VO2 max), a faster burning of fats and a more efficient workout in a shorter period.
If this method interests you, it is essential to integrate this type of workout gradually as it can be associated with a higher risk of muscular or skeleton injuries.
What about patients with heart problems?
The interval workout method has proven its benefits with people in good health. But where does it stand with patients suffering with heart problems?
The VO2 max is closely associated with death risks in patients suffering from coronary heart disease or suffering from cardiac insufficiency. The cardiac rehabilitation programs have demonstrated their efficiency in safely improving the patient’s situation.
By improving the physical capacity and the muscular force, these programs also improve the quality of life of the patients.
For the past few years, the HIIT methods have gained in interest in the rehabilitation centers. By alternating between short, intense workout periods with resting periods, very sick patients have improved their tolerance to effort.
You must be well informed
However, when suffering from heart diseases, it is essential that you are well advised before considering this type of workout. An experienced kinesiologist in cardiac rehabilitation can guide you through a safe workout.
In a nutshell, the benefits of physical exercise are numerous for everybody, whether you are in good shape or whether you have heart problems.
Certain cases need approval
There are very few contraindications to practicing physical activities. When faced with health issues, it is essential to confirm with a doctor before beginning an exercise program more intense than walking.
If you are suffering from cardiac problems, your cardiologist will guide you and will, if needed, refer you to an experienced kinesiologist.
The cornerstone to changes to your lifestyle
Physical activity, especially continuous workout, is now considered as the cornerstone of the non pharmacologist treatment for patients with heart issues.
Simply exercising regularly has us change our eating habits. This helps us reach or maintain a healthy weight and to reduce our waist size.
Also, regular workout helps us realize that tobacco usage is to be avoided in this new lifestyle, if tobacco was part of your life.
Programs almost everywhere
There exist heart rehabilitation programs in almost every region in Canada. A multidisciplinary team (cardiologists, nutritionists, kinesiologists and psychologists) is present in these centers and each professional is ready to accompany you on the road to better fitness after a cardiac event.
Up to you!
So, no more excuses! What are you waiting for?