Movement for our hearts…
I’m pretty sure that we all know how important movement is for our heart health but are you getting daily aerobic exercise versus anaerobic?
In recent years strength training has seen a massive rise in popularity which is great as we definitely need strength training to maintain strong muscles especially as we age. Our muscles are responsible for many functions in the body, they enable movement, are responsible for heartbeat, breathing, digestion and maintaining our metabolism. Strong muscles help maintain our bone density and enable us to maintain body function. We build muscle strength when we apply resistance such as lifting weights, doing a Pilates Reformer class or using our body weight to perform press up’s etc. This type of training is anaerobic which means without oxygen, this system uses carbohydrates for energy. The ideal is to get in 2 strength training sessions per week that are spaced apart to allow for muscle recovery and repair. In contrast aerobic exercise is when the body uses oxygen for energy as in walking at a good pace, jogging, swimming, playing tennis or taking a cardio-based class such as barre. As we age our aerobic
fitness is even more important for our heart health and is sometimes neglected in favour of too much strength training.
Aerobic exercise is needed for our cardiorespiratory system, it maintains our heart function and health, we should be aiming to include daily aerobic exercise. Regular aerobic exercise creates positive adaptations in our capacity to exercise, builds endurance and strengthens our skeletal and heart muscle. As we come into midlife and transition into menopause our heart heath is even more important as this is a vulnerable time for our health due to declining oestrogen levels which has an impact on all our organs including our hearts. Menopausal hormone disruptions can lead to changes in our regional fat distribution which can then have a knock-on effect in elevating our blood pressure and changing our cholesterol profiles. Declining oestrogen also impacts our blood vessels, making them stiffer, daily aerobic exercise improves our circulation and helps to dilate our blood vessels which lowers our risk of heart disease. Heart disease is our highest risk factor as we move into menopause and post menopause so it’s a crucial time to take a good look at our heart health. Steady paced aerobic activity performed rhythmically for 30-60 minutes is best for improving our mitochondrial function, optimising fat burning and in turn keeping our hearts healthy.
Movement is medicine but getting the balance between both strength and aerobic movement along with including plenty of variety is key as different types of exercise trigger different responses. Our female exercise prescription also depends so much on our age, stage, stress, sleep and state of our joint and heart health. If you need some guidance in getting the right movement prescription book a private session with me. As a midlife woman, I am passionate about helping other midlife women get it right!