Did you know that February is American Heart Month? American Heart Month is a federally designated month in the United States to bring awareness to cardiovascular disease including heart disease and stroke. Cardiovascular disease statistically remains the leading global cause of death with more than 17 million deaths each year (yikes). Unfortunately, because it affects so many people, you will most likely have a loved one impacted by it at some point in your lifetime.
Okay, so that was a real downer to talk about, and not the way most of our blog posts begin so just hang with me...
I really am not trying to be a downer, but I write this today to really encourage you to take care of your heart, and to encourage you to partake in some sort of cardiovascular exercise. I always crack up at the quote in Pitch Perfect when the Bellas are learning their routines and Fat Amy says “don’t put me down for cardio.” I think I’ve seen that quote on t-shirts at Target and all over Instagram too, but why does cardio have such a bad reputation?! Well, I have a few suspicions on why this might be the case...
First of all I think most people’s first introduction to cardio was middle school PE, I mean right?! Running the straights and walking the curves and just running laps on laps on laps totally was a bad introduction. Another reason I think people have a negative view of cardio is that they view it as a form of punishment. This might be because running was the typical punishment when you were playing sports growing up. So many of us feel like if we ate bad this weekend we are going to have to run for an hour on the treadmill or spend our life on the elliptical to make up for it.
We need to reframe the way we think about cardio. I want to encourage you not to look at fitness, especially cardio, as a punishment, but rather as a way to relieve stress, take care of your body and renew your mind. That is a post for a whole different day and ladies (and maybe gents if you’re reading) it is coming!
This month I want to provide you with some ways to introduce some cardiovascular exercise into your life to take care of your heart especially if you are a “weights” or a “yoga” person. I was the cardio queen when I graduated college: I loved running, spinning and even...the elliptical. It probably was because I didn’t know exactly what else to do and the machines at the gym were intimidating. Then came into the picture my favorite form of cardio high intensity interval training. HIIT is a cardio session which includes high intensity short bursts of activity followed by periods of rest. I like to think of it as working harder and smarter because you work at a very high intensity (whew, super hard!) but for a shorter amount of time.
Maybe HIIT isn’t really your thing, but I wanted to offer you some other incredible types of cardio training. One of the most common ones and one that is so very easy to start is walking. First of all I love walking because... hello, multitasking! Walking is such a great way to boost your cardiovascular health with even just 30 minutes at a brisk pace. Walking with Kyle or walking with a friend is such a great way to catch up on the day or have a heart to heart. I also love walking and listening to a podcast or music as a way to unwind. Just try to make sure you get out there and get moving, your body will thank you and maybe even your dog too--they need it just like we do! Not to miss the obvious but some other great cardio exercise that you might already be doing: jogging, swimming, biking, climbing stairs, walking the mall, DANCING. I’d love to know what you are doing to keep your heart healthy! Leave a comment below with your favorite form of cardio!
Now, I know the reason you read this post was for some workout encouragement so for the month of February I will be posting weekly cardio workouts and I hope that these will inspire you.
Here’s the first one...
I told you I loved HIIT so with that, we are going to start with a tabata workout! Tabata is a type of interval training with a work to rest ration of 20 seconds of work to 10 seconds of rest. So you can either download an interval timer on your phone or just watch your timer, whatever works best for you.
Alternate between two exercises for 4 rounds of each and then switch up and change up your two exercises. Rest for 1 min between each set.
Set 1: mountain climbers and in and out squat jumps
Set 2: jump ropes and plyo lunges (lunge jumps)
Set 3: high knees and pushups
Repeat the 3 sets.