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Training Tips Your Heart Will Love
A strong, successful athlete requires a healthy heart. To ensure that your cardiovascular health is game-ready, measure your heart rate, adjust the training routine to fit your stamina and goals, and maintain a well-balanced diet.
Measuring your heart rate ensures an efficient routine during training. While exercising, monitoring the heart’s rate can help athletes determine whether they’re pushing themselves too hard, or need to increase the intensity to attain their strengthening goal.
To accurately analyze your heart rate, you must first define your target zone – the ideal heart rate to get the most out of your training sessions. Knowing this will help you track your health and fitness levels.
However, before determining the target zone, take your resting heart rate – the number of times the heart beats per minute when at rest. The perfect time to check this is first thing in the morning, before getting out of bed. The American Heart Association defines the normal range as between 60 and 100 beats per minute (bpm). A lower resting heart rate is generally better because it typically means the heart is better conditioned. Heart rate can be affected by stress, anxiety, medication and your level of physical activity. An athlete’s resting rate can drop as low as 40 bpm.
The maximum and target heart rate zones differ depending on your age. The target zone is the heart rate during moderate intensity exercises, while the maximum rate is during high intensity activities. Subtract your age from 220 to get your maximum heart rate, the highest number of times your heart should beat during a minute of exercise. To better understand what your target zone and maximum heart rate should be, look at this chart provided by the American Heart Association.
Once you’ve found your target, you should continuously monitor your heart rate when training. The easiest way to do this is by wearing a heart rate device or fitness watch. If that’s not an option, measure manually by finding your pulse on the inside of your wrist and count the number of beats in 30 seconds, then multiply by two. Knowing your heart’s rate during a workout will aid in determining whether you should slow down or pick up the pace.
With all that being said, it’s important for athletes to pay attention to their cardiovascular health to stay in tip-top condition, and further their athletic careers. Contrary to popular belief, athletes can compromise their heart’s health through improper training and diets. So, to maintain a healthy and happy heart, follow these easy tips from our specialists:
- Do not overconsume protein. Keli Donnelly, D.O., a sports medicine physician at Premier Orthopaedics in Bryn Mawr, explains that, “too much protein can increase the risk for heart attack and heart disease. It’s important to maintain a well-balanced diet, including foods that are high in heart-healthy nutrients. Some examples include salmon, almonds, walnuts, brown rice, spinach, broccoli, oranges, etc.”
- Alternate workout routines. Premier sports medicine physician Kevin Walsh, M.D., voted #1 in Non-Surgical Sports Medicine by Main Line Today magazine, states, “consistent long-distance running can lead to arterial damage, and increase the risk for heart attack. While working out, be sure to include both resistance training and cardiovascular exercise.”
If you or someone you know needs further assistance from a sports medicine specialist, contact Dr. Donnelly and Dr. Walsh’s Bryn Mawr office at 610-520-6170.