In the pursuit of a sculpted physique, there’s one vital muscle that often gets overlooked at the gym: the heart. Unlike the mirror-friendly biceps or chiseled abs, the heart doesn’t receive the same attention it deserves. Perhaps it’s because heart-strengthening exercises are deemed monotonous, time-consuming, and less glamorous than lifting weights. It’s like the gym’s equivalent of eating your vegetables; it’s necessary, but not always enticing.
The Recipe for a Healthy Heart
Cardiovascular exercise doesn’t just fortify the heart muscle; it also enhances the body’s ability to transport oxygen and blood, reduces blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and mitigates the risk of various diseases. Dedicated exercise training in middle age can also potentially reverse the consequences of conditions like hypertension and offer protection against more severe issues like heart failure.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week, 75 minutes of vigorous activity, or a combination of both. Elite athletes diligently embrace “Zone 2” training, involving low-intensity, longer workouts to build foundational stamina. While this might sound less exciting, remembering the profound health benefits can be the motivation needed to stick with it.
Spice Up Your Routine
Cardio can come in various forms, such as rowing, jumping rope, or playing sports like basketball, tennis, or soccer. Dr. Ben Levine, a sports cardiologist, suggests diversifying cardio exercises and durations. The key is to keep your workouts engaging, prevent repetitive stress injuries, and target different muscle groups. What matters most is that you enjoy the activity and it keeps you moving.
Meeting the AHA’s exercise recommendations may appear challenging, but it’s all about making it manageable. Renowned trainer and GQ columnist Joe Holder emphasizes the concept of “exercise snacks.” You don’t necessarily need a gym for your cardio fix. Consider picking up the pace during your daily commute, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or squeezing in short bursts of exercise wherever you can.
Meditation, a mindfulness practice that has helped thousands of people over the years, is more challenging than it may seem. There can be days when the best of us struggle to shut our minds off while meditating, but the key is to be consistent. To achieve that calmness, you need to practice the technique with consistent effort. Here are a few tips that may help you.
Explore Different Types of Meditation
Before deciding what works best for you, you should explore different types of meditation. Not every technique will fit well with your personality, but there are certain techniques that are universally functional. Breathing techniques are one of the most fundamental and are very effective. You can achieve significant effects by focusing just on breathing techniques. Exercises that focus on breathing, include box breathing, belly breathing, and listening to ocean sounds.
Another tip for mediating in the most effective way is to sit in an environment where there is peace and quiet. If there is background noise in the room, you will not be able to focus. Especially for beginners, it is important to note your surroundings so that you can focus just on your breathing and block out extraneous noises. In order to maximize the benefits of meditation, research has indicated that you should select the same location and time for each session.
Keep Low Expectations
Remember to keep a check on your expectations. Do not try to successfully reach all your goals on the very first day. You should start with baby steps and, once you feel comfortable, explore. Keep your expectations at zero if you wish to utilize meditation to its fullest extent. Simply begin, learn to tolerate discomfort, and then give yourself permission to examine your body and mind. People frequently feel unfavorable feelings at first, but do not panic and leave the session. Try again until you feel comfortable.
Consistency Is Important
Practice makes perfect. If you feel discomfort in the initial days, do not lose hope; keep going! It is far preferable to practice meditation daily for at least 10 minutes than only once a week for 30 minutes. Your body needs time to adjust to your new lifestyle. Therefore, it is extremely important to not rush the process and instead work towards your goal every day. You will experience the benefits when you regularly practice breathing awareness. Even easier, you can practice mindfulness at any moment. It just entails giving the present moment all of your attention.