The Importance of Switching Up Your Workout Routine

Tired of doing the same boring workout at the gym?

Switching up your workout and doing as many different types of activities is an effective way to increase overall fitness. Let’s take a look at a generic workout for example using the elliptical for 30 minutes 3 times a week. This routine is better than certainly none and if you are elderly, have joint pain or an injury/disease disabling you from higher intensity exercise, sustaining a low impact activity such as the elliptical is the right choice. Otherwise after about a month the body recognizes this routine as a baseline and the heart is not being challenged through interval training.
A healthy heart rate (HR) is anywhere between 60-80bpm at rest. During exercise the HR needs to increase and decrease multiple times. First off, ask yourself am I pushing myself hard enough (most likely you’ll know the answer to this question) and secondly are you bringing your HR up and then back down continuously through the workout?

Practical Application

Here’s an easy calculation to figure out if you’re pushing yourself enough and reaching a HR that will give you the best results for your time spent exercising. To find an approximate estimate of your maximum HR take 220 minus your age. For example: 220- 40 years old= 180bpm. That number is an average of the maximum number of times your heart can beat per minute.

From here we can look at the different levels of intensity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that a moderate level intensity ranges from 50-70% of max HR whereas 70-85% is considered high intensity. Let’s try a calculation for moderate level intensity at 65% of max HR. To work at 65% of your maximum capacity take your max HR and times it by .65%. Ex: 180bpm X .65%= 117bpm. Now lets do the same but at 85% intensity. 180bpm X .85%= 127.5bpm. To be working at 65%-85% of you max HR, a person of 40 years must keep the HR in between 117-127.5bpm. Maintaining a moderate to high intensity pace regardless of what type of exercise will give you the best results and now you know why! Next time you’re at the gym take note of your HR whether it be manually using your carotid/radial artery (count for 15 seconds, times by 4 to give you your beats per minute) or with a HR monitor. Workout smart so you don’t waste precious time at the gym!


What is your blood telling you?

The Truth About Blood Pressure, Heart Rate, Cholesterol and Glucose. 

1. Blood pressure
RANGE: A healthy blood pressure is 120/80. 
INFORMATION: Blood pressure measures the force of blood against the arterial walls. When the heart beats faster or harder than normal and there is an increase in blood volume (mostly due to a diet high in sodium), the force of blood increases therefore raising the blood pressure. Anything above 120/80 can be related with a diet high in sodium (salt). Processed and packaged foods and fast food restaurants offer foods with a high sodium content typically because the food is designed to have a long shelf life so they preserve it with sodium. 
PREVENTION: To decrease blood pressure stay away from fast food restaurants, packaged and processed foods.

2. Heart Rate
RANGES: A healthy heart is 60-80bpm although below 60 is even better if you are a healthy individual. For example, Lance Armstrong’s heart beats 34bpm at rest. 
INFORMATION: If your heart rate is above 80bpm, it means that at rest your heart is working incredibly hard to pump blood to required areas. The long term affects of a heart chronically hard at work can be detrimental. During exercise the heart rate will increase naturally but at rest, the heart shouldn’t have to work hard to do its job of distributing blood.
PREVENTION: Drinking plenty of water can help heart rate stay in the healthy range as well as exercising. 

3. Cholesterol 
RANGES: Total cholesterol in the healthy range is less than 200. HDL healthy range is 60 or greater and LDL 100-129 is considered healthy. Triglycerides should be under 150. INFORMATION: Now most likely you’ve heard about good and bad cholesterol but what’s what and how does cholesterol have an affect on the body? Cholesterol is actually a necessity for multiple functions in the body but excessive amounts of cholesterol have been linked to cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and the risk of stroke. LDL is the bad cholesterol while HDL is the good cholesterol. These two types of cholesterol work synergistically. If HDL is high that will help lower LDL and here’s how. In layman’s terms, HDL is essentially acting a garbage truck, going around and picking up all the excess LDL or plaque within arteries. The more garbage trucks (HDL) your bloodstream carries, the less plaque buildup you will have. 
PREVENTION: The #1 way to increase your HDL count is to exercise. Cholesterol is found in animal derived foods such as meats and dairy. Trying to stay away from dairy and sticking to lean meats such as chicken or turkey will reduce your chances of having high cholesterol. 

4. Glucose
RANGES: A healthy glucose level is 70-100mg/dl in the fasting state. 70-125mg/dl if non-fasting.
WHAT: Glucose levels above 100mg/dl (fasting) means that either there’s too much sugar in the diet or your body can’t efficiently process it, which then causes blood glucose levels to rise. The result of the body not processing blood glucose properly is type II diabetes. 
PREVENTION: By consuming whole grains instead of white or enriched grain/pasta/cereals and by increasing physical activity glucose levels can become more stable.