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)

– 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!

“Beginning Care with a Call”

By David Mortimer, Sacred Heart Hospital, Communications Department

According to the American Heart Association, over 16 million Americans suffer from coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. In addition, over half a million Americans suffer a stroke each year.

Dialing 911 can be the best thing you (or a loved one) can do for your heart or your brain in the event of stroke or heart attack symptoms. Accessing prompt care is as close as a cell phone or telephone and can help prevent death or reduce disability.

Earlier this year, area EMS providers and the emergency departments at Sacred Heart Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital, and Luther Midelfort collaborated on the implementation and training of new technology that allows area ambulances to transfer live EKG (electrocardiogram) data to area hospital emergency departments. The program enables emergency medical technicians to gather EKG readings at the scene and send information to an area hospital in real time to diagnose the problem quickly and efficiently.

Getting patients quickly to specialized care, including by air medical transport, has been shown to shorten hospital stays, decrease mortality and improve patient outcomes for cardiac and stroke patients. The key is taking action right away.

This past year, thanks to investments in wireless technology in the Chippewa Valley, area healthcare and EMS providers launched a “Care Begins with the Call” educational campaign to Promote 911 usage.

“Fewer than 50 percent of emergency room patients arrive at the Emergency Department in an ambulance,” says Eau Claire Fire Department Deputy Chief Rick Merryfield, who oversees emergency medical services for the department. “Critical treatment time is lost. We know that in many cases, such as stroke, symptoms can be reversed. We can improve quality of life statistics by encouraging people to call 911 when they first sense symptoms of heart attack or stroke. The care really does begin with the call to 911.”

Reluctance to call for help can delay emergency care. Some people have admitted, “We didn’t want to bother the ambulance service,” or “I feel embarrassed coming to the ER if it’s not really serious.” In a stroke or heart attack, however, time is brain or heart muscle.

Dr. Tom Peterson, Sacred Heart Hospital emergency physician and Eau Claire Fire Department Medical Director, “Our EMS crews are trained to respond to those calls and would much rather err on the side of caution, considering the documented benefits of early treatment.”

Emergency department personnel appreciate the new technology. “While patients are in transport, the hospital is made aware of the patient’s situation and real-time vitals, and we are able to prepare for their arrival,” says Sue Johnson, RN, Emergency Services coordinator at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Chippewa Falls. “When we have a walk-in patient, time is needed to triage the situation and begin basic treatments that would have started in the ambulance.”

Heart Attack Risk Increases in Winter

According to Archives of Internal Medicine,* the risk of having a heart attack during the winter months is twice as high as in the summertime. Here are a few reasons stated:

• Cold weather. When a person’s body gets cold, the body’s automatic response is to narrow the blood vessels. Cutting down on blood flow to the skin means the body doesn’t lose as much heat. But for people who already have clogged arteries, the narrowing of the blood vessels raises the risk that one will become blocked, and could trigger a heart attack.

• Snow shoveling. Shoveling snow is very strenuous, causing the heart to work harder and raising your blood pressure. People who never exercise often go out and shovel snow in the winter. So, if you must shovel, push the snow rather that lift it, stay warm doing it, and take breaks. If you are overweight, or over 55 years old, or have suffered a previous heart attack, don’t shovel at all.

• Flu. The flu is another culprit responsible for the winter surge in heart attacks. A flu infection can increase blood pressure, and stir up white blood cell activity—all bad news for your heart. Ask your doctor about getting a flu shot.

*Archives of Internal Medicine is a bi-monthly professional medical journal published by the American Medical Association.

Heart Health Smarts

by Diane Wolfe

February has been declared Heart Health Month in America by the American Heart Association. We are encouraged to discover the power of being heart-healthy and taking care of ourselves.

Good heart health depends upon lifestyle choices we make every day. With healthcare costs and coverage becoming a real concern for more and more people, individual life choices have an even greater impact on our future and finances. While in the past, people may have waited for medical evaluation and testing to confirm a need for concern, today’s mentality is becoming one of more proactive and preventative approaches.

Most people are aware of the role diet and exercise play in our overall health, and that a healthy lifestyle is our best weapon against heart disease. According to the AHA, adopting the simple steps below as part of your life will have long-term benefits to your health and heart.

First, use up at least as many calories as you take in each day. Know how many calories you should be eating and drinking to maintain, reduce, or increase your weight. The number of calories to eat each day is based on your age and physical activity level.

Adjust the amount and intensity of your physical activity to match your weight goal. Start off slow and keep a routine going. Stretch before and after exercising, and stay hydrated with water all day. Most importantly, consult a doctor before starting an aggressive exercise regimen.

Second, eat a variety of nutritious foods from all the food groups. Nutrient-rich foods have vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and are lower in calories. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables may help you control your weight and blood pressure. Unrefined whole-grain foods contain fiber that can help lower blood cholesterol and help you feel full, and eat less. Eat fish twice a week whenever possible. Eating salmon, trout, or herring may help lower your risk of death from coronary artery disease.

As you make daily food choices, base your eating pattern on these AHA recommendations:

  • Choose lean meats and poultry without skin and prepare them without added fats.
  • Select fat-free, 1% fat or low-fat dairy products.
  • Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars.
  • Keep an eye on your portion size. One fist full is typically one serving size, enough for one person.
  • Chew often and eat slowly!

Use healthy methods of food preparation, too. Use “choice” or “select” grades of beef rather than “prime” and trim the fat off the edges before cooking. Use cuts of red meat and pork labeled “loin” and “round”; they usually have the least fat. With poultry, use the leaner light meat, like breasts, instead of fattier dark meat like legs and thighs. Make recipes with egg whites, instead of egg yolks. Two whites = one yolk. Instead of frying foods, use cooking methods that add little or no fat, like stir-frying. Use a wok to cook veggies, poultry, or seafood in vegetable stock, wine, or small amount of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Avoid high-sodium seasonings like teriyaki or soy sauce. When roasting, use a rack in the pan so the meat doesn’t sit in its own fat drippings. Try basting with wine, tomato juice or lemon juice. Grilling and broiling are both great fat-free cooking approaches. Bake foods in covered cookware with some sort of liquid, instead of pan frying meat or fish. Steam your vegetables; they will retain more flavor and nutrients.

Third, lead a healthy lifestyle. This is a vital weapon in the battle against heart disease.

Stop smoking today and avoid second hand smoke. Limit your intake of alcohol; excessive alcohol consumption can deplete your body’s supply of vitamins and nutrients.

Identify and reduce stress and anxiety in your life. Surround yourself with happy people! Keep your weight within recommended limits; obesity is the leading cause of heart disease. Get enough sleep each night (6-8 hours is recommended). Visit your doctor to discuss these lifestyle choices.

Ask yourself what you are doing to help your heart along this winter and throughout the year. Make the lifestyle changes necessary to protect yourself against heart disease. No matter what your age, take a long-term interest in your heart before it’s too late – you and those who love you will be glad you did.
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