B Heart Healthy

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The Balance and B Inspired teams’ hearts beat STRONG for our Fit Family!

February — the month of the year we all think about the one who makes our heart beat a little faster.  At Balance we all attempt to make our own hearts beat faster each day. Whether by skillmill, assault bike, rowing machine or jumping jacks, most Balance classes incorporate some cardiorespiratory activity. (Yes, I am looking at you Amy).

Research is continuing to prove just how important improving our cardiorespiratory fitness can be.  A recent study (October 2018) conducted by the Cleveland Clinic found very strong links between cardiac fitness and increased longevity. This study was exciting for several reasons. First, it followed over 120,000 people. Second, it followed most participants for an average of 8 years. Third, it directly measured cardiac fitness by monitored treadmill stress tests (unlike many studies using self reports of exercise frequency and level of exertion).  The results were dramatic, at each increased level of cardiac fitness mortality rates dropped significantly, and the authors concluded that, “cardiorespiratory fitness is a modifiable indicator of long-term mortality, and health care professionals should encourage patients to achieve and maintain high levels of fitness.” The article went on to assert that “ ...we can move the needle when it comes to changing our risk of premature death” by training our way to better cardiorespiratory fitness.  (https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2707428)

Other studies have also shown that it doesn’t matter where you start, any improvement in cardio fitness decreases mortality rates. A study conducted by the Cooper Institute in 1989 showed that, “if a patient can move from ‘very poor’ or ‘poor’ to ‘fair’ on [a cardiac fitness scale], his or her risk of mortality decreased by 58 percent …. you don’t need to be running a marathon to get the benefits of exercise.”  The study further concluded, by looking at other health risks, that “higher levels of physical fitness appear to delay all-cause mortality primarily due to lowered rates of cardiovascular disease and cancer” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2795824; (https://www.cooperaerobics.com/Health-Tips/Prevention-Plus/Benefits-of-Knowing-Your-VO2-Max.aspx)

So, how do we know our level of cardiorespiratory fitness? One way of assessing this is by measuring your VO2 max (yes, you do have one of those). Defined as the maximal volume of oxygen (in millimeters) you can use per kilogram of body weight per minute (ml/kg/min), your VO2max is a key measure of fitness level and can inform your training goals in important ways. Here are some ways in which knowing your VO2MAX can be beneficial:

  1. A baseline VO2 max score lets you and your trainer know your specific aerobic limit and gives you a baseline upon which to build a training program specific to your limits.  It can be a useful tool to set realistic goals (emphasis on realistic) and improve the efficiency of your training, with less fatigue and fewer injuries.  BioFit Philly, right here at Balance, provides a range of biometrics testing, including VO2MAX. (https://www.biofitphilly.com/v02maxrmr/)

  2. The VO2 max test can also help with weight loss goals.  Knowing your aerobic limit will clarify how well your body burns calories during exercise. This knowledge can then help you realistically (there is that word again) set calorie goals and exercise programs to help reach those specific goals.  (https://www.cooperaerobics.com/Health-Tips/Prevention-Plus/Benefits-of-Knowing-Your-VO2-Max.aspx)

  3. Finally, knowing your VO2 max can help keep you accountable in your exercise and fitness. The test doesn’t lie and follow up tests (annually or as desired) will show clearly whether or not you have been keeping up with your fitness.

    Whether or not  you choose to measure your VO2MAX, there are easy and effective ways to incorporate cardiorespiratory exercises into your training program to improve your current fitness level.
    Amy Carolla, Balance owner, provides a complete cardio/core workout involving 3-5 reps of five exercises described on easy to travel note cards. These cards can also be found in B Inspired Wellness Kits.

Credit to: Alyson Mandel

Kaitlyn Renzi