Workouts for a Healthy Heart

Happy National Go Red Day!  Today is the American Heart Associations National Wear Red Day.  The goal of today is to raise awareness of heart disease and stroke.  More specifically, raise awareness that heart disease is the #1 killer for women in this country.

For both men and women, at all ages, it is important to work out your heart.  I can tell you that doing “cardio” is my least favorite part of a workout.  It is hard, I get sweaty and out of breath, BUT this is what not only burns calories but more importantly, what exercises my heart,  making it stronger and healthier for years to come. (PREVENTION)

Many of us do cardio with the motivation of losing weight, and are not always thinking about the great benefits we are providing our bodies.  According to Mayo Clinic, regular physical activity can help you prevent — or manage — high blood pressure. Your cholesterol will benefit, too. Regular physical activity boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol while decreasing triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly by lowering the buildup of plaques in your arteries.  And there’s more. Regular physical activity can help you prevent type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and certain types of cancer.

So how much physical activity should we all be doing a week?

According to the latest joint American Heart Association/American College of Sports Medicine guidelines on physical activity, all healthy adults ages 18–65 should be getting at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity five days of the week.

However, there are additional guidelines for those 65 and older, or for those  50–64 with chronic conditions or physical functional limitations (e.g., arthritis) that affect movement ability or physical fitness, so make sure you talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.

The Good news?

Even low-to-moderate intensity activities, when done for as little as 30 minutes a day, bring benefits. These activities include things you may do already!  Pleasure walking, climbing stairs, gardening, yard work, moderate-to-heavy housework, dancing and home exercise.

What are workouts that will keep my heart healthy?

Physical activity involving your large muscle groups and gets your heart rate up (within your target heart rate zone).

Brisk walking (aim for around 2.5 hours a week).

Running outside or inside (1.5 hours a week);  add sprints and hills for more challenge. 

  • Want an indoor track? DePaul Univeristy Ray Meyer Fitness and Rec Center (great views!)*, World Gym Montrose, Lakeshore Athletic Club-Lincoln Park, Bally’s (E. Washington, Cumberland, River City, Century City and 6 Corners locations)

Attend a cardio class; spinning, cardio kickboxing, step, anything that gets and keeps that heart rate up!

At home workout DVD/On demand.  Most cable providers provide free on demand fitness workouts.  Check out your on demand programming at take advantage of these offerings.


  • Boxing in the city?  Chicago Boxing Club, Equinox-Lincoln Park, Fitness Formula-Lincoln Park, Lakeshore Athletic Club-Lincoln Park

Cross Country Ski

Elliptical trainer.  Make sure to add on resistance.  I always see people on ellipticals at the gym zooming away, not breaking a sweat because they have no resistance on the machine.

Rock climbing. 

  • Gyms in the city with climbing walls; Lincoln Park Athletic Club, McCormick Tribune YMCA, Xsport (Bricktown, Logan Square, Pipers Alley, State), Lakeshore Athletic Club-Illinois, Fitness Formula-Oak Park)


  • Gyms with pools in the city; Fitness Formula Lincoln Park, Equinox-Gold Coast, Homes Place, Lakeshore Athletic Club-Lincoln Park & Illinois, Xsport (State, Pipers Alley, Logan Square,) Bally’s (Bricktown, E. Washington, River City, Century City, Hyde Park, Cumberland),  West Loop Athletic Club, Galter Lifecenter, East Bank Club

Circuit training.  Get bored on one machine for 30 minutes?  Trade off, do the treadmill for a 10 min run, elliptical for 10 minutes and bike for 10.

Jump rope.  Remember when it was fun and easy as a kid.  Not anymore.  Jumping rope makes your heart rate soar and is a challenge!

The key is to find something that you enjoy doing.  If you love running-run for your heart health.  Need the motivation of a group fitness class-try out cardio classes. 

Just get that heart beating! 

*thanks @sweettweetchi!


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