February Is American Heart Month So Here's Some Fitness Advice
The pace that
feels right probably is. When it comes to fitness, a brisk, comfortable
walking pace strengthens the heart, researchers reported during the
recent American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2003.
Heart Association and other advisory groups recommend that Americans
regularly participate in moderate-to-vigorous exercise that boosts the
heart rate to more than 55 percent of its maximum.
has been proclaimed as American Heart Month by President Bush.
“Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United
States,” the President noted. “It affects men and women of
every age and race. During American Heart Month, we encourage all
Americans to join the fight against heart disease and to learn more
about how to prevent it, “ he said in a proclamation.
To read the entire proclamation, go to:
large segment of the population still believes exercise must be
vigorous, demanding or involve more complicated activities than walking
to adequately raise one’s heart rate. This perception of
‘no pain, no gain’ can discourage people from starting to
exercise at all,” said lead investigator Kyle McInnis, Sc.D.,
professor of exercise science at the University of Massachusetts in
researchers studied 84 obese adults (72 women, 12 men, average age 41),
who were seeking professional advice on a safe level of exercise.
were middle-aged people like many others. They were between 30 and 100
pounds overweight, with below-average aerobic endurance, and had been
thinking about starting to exercise and lose some weight,”
At the first
visit, researchers measured heart rate and oxygen use, while the
subjects walked on a treadmill with a gradually increasing steepness
until they felt fatigued.
different day, the subjects walked one mile on the treadmill with
instructions to maintain a “brisk but comfortable” pace.
Participants completed the walk in an average of 18.7 minutes, at an
average speed of 3.2 miles per hour.
self-paced walk, all the participants achieved the recommended levels
of exercise intensity, based on their previous heart rate measures.
Thirteen were at moderate intensity (55-69 percent of maximum heart
rate), 58 at hard intensity (70-89 percent) and 13 at very hard
intensity (90-100 percent).
with the treadmill tests showed that when participants self-selected a
speed that was comfortable but brisk, their heart rate and level of
exertion was in a safe range but high enough to improve their
cardiovascular fitness,” McInnis said. “You really can get
your heart rate up to the level that your doctor would recommend, and
you don’t have to jog or run to do it.”
these results encourage sedentary people to begin exercising.
“Walking is commonly identified as the single most enjoyable form
of recreational exercise. Our study asked whether walking at a
self-selected, comfortable pace is adequate to elicit the
cardiovascular response associated with improved health and
fitness,” he said.
Heart Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and
the American College of Sports Medicine suggest people walk or perform
other moderate-intensity exercises for at least 30 minutes five days or
more a week.
Being able to
give simple advice on walking may get more physicians talking to their
patients about the importance of physical activity. Currently, only
about one in three physicians counsels patients about exercise, McInnis
is particularly important for the growing segment of the population
that is overweight or obese. Obesity is a major independent risk factor
for heart disease. Most obese persons have one or more additional risk
factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or insulin
physical activity is key to reducing these risks. Even if weight stays
the same and physical exercise is a big help in reducing excess weight
physical activity can improve blood pressure, blood glucose and
cholesterol levels, and significantly lower the risk of death and
disability from heart disease,” McInnis said.
Source: American Heart Association