H is for Happy

April 26th, 2011 by Amy Gonsalves Leave a reply »

Hey!  Remember how I’m not a doctor?  Me, too!  If you have specific questions about any of this, please ask your doctor about it—I’m just presenting my understanding of this study.

If you have either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you know cardiovascular (heart) disease is a major risk.  You may also know that my personal approach to dealing with that looming unknown is to keep myself fit and active every day to take care of my heart.

You may know the common positive risk factors that signify a higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease: smoking, poor diet, inactivity, and (ut oh) diabetes.

You should probably know, whether you have diabetes or not, what your cholesterol situation is.  You need to know this so that you can understand how at risk you are of developing coronary heart disease. 

We should each want to do all we can to decrease our risk.  One way to do this is to look at negative risk factors for cardiovascular disease. 

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol can be a negative risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease.  This is because HDL’s main role in metabolism is to transfer cholesterol from plaque deposits in our blood vessels to the liver for excretion. 

So the HDL cholesterol actually functions to remove cholesterol.  (Tell me THAT makes sense, calling them both cholesterol.)  The more HDL we have, the better off we are.

H is for HAPPY!

Want to raise your HDL?  A recent study suggests a four-pronged approach: (1) aerobic exercise; (2) diet; (3) moderate alcohol intake; and (4) stop smoking already!

Since I’m a trainer and exercise is my specialty, that’s the one I’ll discuss.  (You can Google the others.) 

The greater your aerobic capacity, the greater the association with elevated HDL levels.  Sweet! 

At minimum, get 120 minutes a week of aerobic exercise and you are doing yourself a world of good.  Happy-HDL levels-protecting-your-heart kind of good!

You want to have a great volume of blood pumped by your heart per beat, and you want the amount of oxygen travelling through your blood into your muscles at high levels while simultaneously having a high amount of oxygen-poor blood travelling back from the muscles to your heart.  (V02 max)  The higher each of these is, the higher your aerobic capacity.

You want to challenge your cardiovascular system so that it improves in response.  To improve your aerobic capacity during those 120 minimum minutes per week, yes, you’ve guess it: INTERVAL TRAINING. 

Work as hard as you can for 3-5 minutes, then recover for 1-2 minutes.  Recovering isn’t sitting down, though.  Stay moving during your recovery and get back to the hard work ASAP!!

Makes me HAPPY just to think about all the great things we are doing for our hearts.

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