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Heart health: the importance of training this muscle!

February 1, 2024 - By Mathieu Têtu

Temps de lecture 4 minutes

The heart, like any other muscle in the body, needs to be stimulated to be in better shape, be more efficient, and stay healthy! This February, the spotlight in on heart health and we invite you to discover the benefits of physical activity. We also suggest a training program to improve your cardiovascular health.

Let’s start with some interesting facts and statistics about the heart.

  • Heart disease and stroke are the leading cause of death worldwide.
  • In Canada, heart disease and stroke are second only to cancer as a cause of death, according to Statistics Canada.
  • A person dies of heart disease every 5 minutes in Canada, accounting for 21% of all deaths.
  • Physical activity is one of the best ways to achieve good heart health.
  • Physical activity can reduce the risk of dying from heart disease by up to 50%.
  • According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, 9 out of 10 people have at least one risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
  • The heart is a muscle, and it can be trained!

Cardiovascular diseases are diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels. Examples include hypercholesterolemia (high levels of cholesterol in the blood) and hypertension.

Main treatments for heart disease

Treatment for people living with heart disease encompasses many facets, usually including medical supervision and emergency medical assistance, combined with nutritional education, stress-reduction counseling, medication, and regular physical activity.

This general approach to modifying coronary risk factors can slow, halt and, in some cases, even reverse the progression of heart disease.

The benefits of physical activity on the heart

Studies have shown that regular aerobic activity, such as cycling, cross-country skiing or swimming, can increase:

  • aerobic capacity (i.e. the ability to maintain physical activity for longer or cover greater distances with less effort and less fatigue)
  • endurance (i.e. less fatigue for everyday activities, feeling less tired at the end of the day)
  • cardiovascular function in people at risk of or suffering from cardiovascular disease, such as hypertension (i.e. better oxygenation of the brain and heart, less fatigue and greater alertness).

Improved fitness reduces resting heart rate and blood pressure and increases the amount of blood pumped by the heart with each beat at rest and with minimal effort. As a result, oxygen demand on the heart is reduced regardless of activity. Angina symptoms can also be reduced.

Strength training in addition to cardio to improve heart capacity

Evidence shows that regular exercise can increase muscular (skeletal muscle) function. The combination of cardiac and muscular improvements leads to an increase in aerobic power (VO2Max). Improved VO2Max is associated with reduced overall mortality rates, particularly cardiovascular mortality.

So, by regularly performing a variety of exercises, you will benefit from:

  • More energy
  • Less fatigue
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower heart rate
  • Improved psychological well-being
  • Improved body weight management

In fact, strength training can help maintain and improve the muscular endurance needed to perform everyday tasks and reduce the demands on your heart. Cardiovascular and muscular training are both important for your heart health.

Don’t hesitate to ask our kinesiologists and nutritionists for help in improving your heart health.

Workout program for heart health

Here’s a starter program to get your heart into gear. It’s easy to do at home. Please note that it’s important to consult a health professional before increasing your level of physical activity.

So, no matter what condition your heart is in or what illnesses you may have, adding exercise to your routine is an essential part of taking care of your heart, and so much more!

References :

  • SPAP-SCPE 11: L’entraînement pour les clients vivants avec des maladies chroniques, Société canadienne de physiologie de l’exercice (SCEP), 3e édition, 2021.
  • ACSM’S Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. 11e Edition. American College of Sports Medecine, Wolters Kluwer, Baltimore, 2022.
  • Faits Saillants des lignes directrices 2020 de l’American Heart Association en matière de RCR et de SUC, Édition de la Fondation des maladies du cœur et de l’AVC du Canada.

Heart health: the importance of training this muscle! is a post from Nautilus Plus. The Nautilus Plus blog aims to help people in their journey to fitness through articles on training, nutrition, motivation, exercise and healthy recipes.
Copyright © Nautilus Plus 2024

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