Work it baby, work it

Exercise is one of the best ways to boost your heart health and overall wellbeing.

What you might ask is the right amount and type of exercise? As with many things, the answer depends on goals, abilities, and limitations. Some people stack a visit to the gym on their way to work, others head out for a lunchtime walk in the park, or pop down to their local swimming pool
for a few laps.

Whatever works for you is arguably the best exercise for you, although you should pick something you enjoy rather than the “right” kind of exercise. Consider whether your body can handle the exercise. High intensity workouts may not be the best for someone just starting to exercise, or recovering from a heart issue. Those who might need extra support should consider joining an exercise group or getting a personal trainer.

Here are some exercise options:

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) vs steady state cardio
HIIT is short, intense, unsustainable bursts of exercise followed by periods of rest, while steady state cardio refers to a cardio workout using continuous, sustained effort, such as running, cycling or swimming. Overseas research has found that with regard to calories burned, HIIT isn’t much better than a slightly longer period of steady state cardio, that it is safe and effective for people with a range of cardiac and metabolic dysfunctions, and that it has better outcomes for aerobic fitness compared to continuous moderate exercise. Try three to four sessions per week. If you have more time to spend exercising, or are injury prone, then steady state cardio may be a better choice.

Cardio/aerobic vs weight/resistance training
Weight training increases weight endurance, muscle tone and strength, and working with free weights can improve stability. Resistance training also helps to maintain bone density, so it is an important part in any exercise programme, especially as people age. Some research has shown that resistance training may be more effective at increasing the calories burned due to exercise than steady state aerobic exercise. Other research has shown similar outcomes in weight management when either resistance training or aerobic training was used in conjunction with a healthy diet. However, aerobic training appeared to have greater benefit in reducing body fat and improving cardiorespiratory fitness, while resistance training seemed to be better at building muscle.

Aerobic vs resistance vs combined training
Research on the effect of aerobic, resistance and combined training on cardiovascular disease risk factors found that in people at risk of cardiovascular disease, a combination of resistance and aerobic training seemed to have better results on the factors measured (which included blood pressure, cardiorespiratory fitness, blood glucose, body composition, and strength) than aerobic or resistance training individually. Other research suggests that a combination of resistance and aerobic training is one of the best options to assist in managing diabetes.

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