CAD (Coronary Artery Disease) is basically, deposits of fatty substances, cholesterol, calcium etc in the inner lining of arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle. It also contributes to other risk factors, including obesity, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, a low level of HDL ("good") cholesterol and diabetes.
Even moderately intense physical activity such as brisk walking is beneficial when done regularly for a total of 30 minutes or longer on most or all days. The key here is at least 30 minute a day, minimum 5 days a week! We also need to look at the fact that while exercising, "are we really burning calories or just burning time"? If your target heart rate is not even reached during your workout then you might as well, sit on the couch and watch TV, why even bother to get up and pretend to do anything?
"When I was young, my Momma told me to walk a mile every day and I have been doing it for years, so my heart is in perfect condition, right?" Really?? Lesiurly walk which does not even cause heavy breathing, let alone take the heart rate up to the optimal level does NOT do anything, to burn calories or have any real benefit our heart health.
I have seen this happening on sidewalks, malls, even on the treadmills in the gyms and the funniest one is, after dinner, I have seen people walking like a zombie, right in their living room and within minutes they are done with their obligatory "walk a mile a day". Time to get back to that Cheese Cake or Gulab Jamun 'cos eating fat can now be justified! In America, you can almost always know the concentration of Indian household neighborhoods, as you will find a bunch of them in their pajamas and slippers between 8 pm and 9.30 pm, strolling leisurely, competing with the other "snail pace walkers". While it may give them the benefits of being out in the open but it really is not doing anything for the heart health or anything else at all.
The key is regular workout, a combination of aerobics and weight training, alternately, 3 to 6 days a week, depending on your general health, body conditioning, age and personal goals. If you are also trying to reduce stress, you may add yoga to your routine which adds benefits of deep breathing, stretching and general body toning to your workout. Keep an eye on your diet and give yourself enough nutrients to match the workout style.
So while Momma may actually be right about the "walk a mile a day" instruction, she may have overlooked the importance of the target heart rate chart. The Target Heart Rate (THR) is the range of heart rate that one would desire to reach when exercising aerobically. This stimulates the heart and lungs to function optimally so as to increase the oxygenation of the body tissues. Depending upon various factors such as age, gender, healthiness, and lifestyle, this range varies from person to person. On an average, the THR is about 60-80% of an individual’s maximum heart rate. Our heart rate needs to fall between the range needed to accomplish the workout goals. The table below shows estimated target heart rates for different ages and different workout routine. Look for the age category closest to yours, then read across to find your target heart rate.
The most optimal workout is one which starts with an aerobic routine and raises the heart rate to the desired level, followed by a weight training routine which maintains that heart rate during the workout and almost keeps the metabolism up for many hours after! With this combination you actually can achieve benefits of both aerobic and muscle training especially for men or women who are looking for weight loss, muscle toning and wanting to continue losing weight by elevating the metabolic rate for longer time periods.
Weight Management Zone – This zone provides the same benefits as the Heart Healthy Zone except that it is more intense and burns more calories. Can be reached by a fast walk or slow jog.
Aerobic Zone – This zone will improve your cardiovascular and respiratory system and will also increase the size and strength of your heart. Attained by a brisk jog.
Anaerobic Zone – A high intensity zone. Achieved by a “burning” run. In this zone, exercise intensity can be used to build your heart/ling capacity and endurance.
Red-Line Zone – This zone is a running at full speed. Use caution when exercising at this level.
Your maximum heart rate is about 220 minus your age. The figures above are averages, so use them as general guidelines. Always monitor your heart rate regularly during the workout. So if you are 30 years of age, then don't let your heart rate go beyond 190 but please at least maintain the lower range of this chart to have a beneficial workout. We really can't alter the genetics, racial and gender aspects of heart ailments, like narrow arteries, high BP, cholesterol etc but we sure can make our workout routine more effective for a healthy heart.