Healthy Heart Workout

by Lori Heck, Owner of ASPIRE Personal Training, Certified Personal Trainer-NASM

This workout can be done anywhere, so no more excuses for not getting in a good workout. As long your physician and/or physical therapist has cleared you, you are good to go! Do each exercise for 20 seconds. Take a one-minute rest and then repeat 1-2 more times. As you get stronger, go for 30-40 of each exercise with a one-minute break in between.

Make sure you warm up first by going through these movements at a slower pace and ease into the movement. Keep the range of motion a little smaller. For the actual workout round you can then add some intensity and increase your range of motion! Have fun!!  (And be sure to check with your physician before beginning a workout program!)

Jumping Jacks or Jump Rope (rope is not needed)

Squat – with arms in the air (make a V with your arms, slightly squeeze shoulder blades together and drop them into your back pockets-hold them there so you feel slight tension in your back as you squat). As you squat, sit back as if you were going to sit on a chair and keep the majority of your weight in your heels. Be sure your knees do not come over past your toes. (right)

Bent Over Row – stand with feet shoulder-width apart, slightly bend at your knees and tip forward so your chest is almost parallel to floor. Pull your belly button to spine and hold to help support your low back and maintain a flat back-don’t round the shoulders. Arms are long and palms are facing each other. Initiate movement by pulling your shoulder blades together and drive your elbows towards the ceiling. Pretend there is an egg between your shoulder blades and you want to crack it! Control your arms back down towards floor and repeat. You can use dumbbells, a resistance band, soup cans, water bottles (yes, full ones)– anything that is weighted and easy to hold. (below)


Stationary Lunge
– Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Step one foot back so your weight is distributed on back toe and front heel. Bend front knee (make sure it does not come over past front toes) and bend and drop back knee towards the floor. Push back up, pushing through the front heel. Repeat in an up and down rhythm. (below)


Spiderman/Spiderwoman
– Get into plank position on your hands. Drive your right foot to your right elbow and take it back to start point. Then repeat that same movement, but with your left foot. Repeat this back and forth movement for 20 seconds.

Plank Hold – on elbows or hands. Pull belly button to spine, hold and BREATHE! (below)


Overhead Arm Raises
– use light weights and do not excessively arch your back. Again, pull belly button to spine and hold. Don’t forget to breathe!! *** If you have high blood pressure you definitely want to keep the weight light and be sure to breathe out as you lift your arms overhead.


Ball Roll Out – In a kneeling position with the exercise/stability ball in front of you, place your hands together as if you were praying and place them on the ball. Slowly roll the ball out in front of you making sure your hips follow (try not to keep a bend at the hip). Take it to the “sticky” point (point at which you feel you better stop because you may not get back to start position). Keep your abs tight (belly button to spine). (right)

Heart Health Exercise:
* Check your resting heart rate! Best time to take your resting heart rate (RHR) is upon waking before you step foot out of bed. Take your middle and ring fingers of your right hand and place them on your left wrist on the same side and just down from your thumb. Some people have a very prominent pulse, others have a very faint pulse. Just focus and practice. You’ll need a watch or clock with a second hand. Once you find your pulse, take it for 15 seconds. Take that number and multiply by 4. This is your approximate resting heart rate. It is best to take your RHR for three consecutive mornings at around the same time and then figure the average of the readings for more accuracy. The average male adult has a RHR of 70 beats per minute (bpm) and 75bpm for females. Your RHR can tell you a few things:

* An RHR lower than the average 70bpm and 75bpm can indicate that your heart may be becoming stronger and more efficient if you have been adhering to a regular cardio program. Your heart will be able to pump a larger volume of blood in a single beat, therefore, it doesn’t have to work as hard! Many endurance athletes (tri-athletes, cyclists, rowers, etc…) have a low RHR sometimes in the low 50’s and upper 40’s.

* If you have been checking your RHR every morning and it has been a consistent number and then one morning it is elevated, it could be that you may be coming down with the flu (especially if you have been feeling blah), or it could mean you are over training. Time to evaluate and rest if need be.

* If you have a consistent RHR over 100bpm you should see your physician. A consistent RHR of 100+ is called tachycardia. In an article written by Mayo Clinic, tachycardia can disrupt normal heart function and could potentially increase the probability of stroke, sudden cardiac arrest, or death. Same with the other extreme-too low! If your RHR is under 60 it is called bradycardia.

* On the flip side, if your heart rate is very slow, 60bpm or less, that could be cause for concern. However, if you are a young, healthy adult or a trained athlete, and have an RHR under 60, there is not as much concern.

Adhering to a regular exercise program, a minimum of 30 minutes, 5-7 days per week will help keep your ticker pumping strong. Like I stated earlier, your heart will become more efficient and will pump blood and oxygen to all the muscles of the body with less effort! Though exercise is a great way to help prevent many health issues, heart events, such as a heart attack, can still occur. However, you are more likely to survive the event and recover faster.

For those who have had a heart event, an exercise program is going to help you to feel better mentally and physically. You may have a few precautions from the doc and the wonderful staff in the cardiac rehab department, but before you know it, you’ll be feeling great! A great workout, once cleared and ready, is the use of the Peripheral Heart Action System (PHA). This is a workout that utilizes dumbbells, machines, cables, etc… and alternates between an upper body movement into a lower body movement. For example, doing a set of 15 push-ups on the knees, to a set of 15 bodyweight squats, then an upper body exercise, to another lower body exercise. This style of training forces blood flow from one end of the body to the other, it is more demanding of the cardiovascular system, and will have an increased calorie burn!