Circuit Training for Heart Health
Contrary to popular theory, aerobics is not the only way to improve heart health. The usual prescription for “how to reduce blood pressure” usually involves some form of low intensity walking, cycling, or jogging. Keep in mind that an elevated heart rate is exactly that – simply, an elevated heart rate. This means that if your heart rate is 150 BPM, your body doesn’t act differently if you’re running on a treadmill or running for your life. There’s this notion that you need to run 60 minutes a day in order to improve heart health when there are plenty of other forms of work you can do. If you’re concerned about heart health it doesn’t mean that your exercise has to be boring.
A study using 12, 60 year old woman shows this. Participants were extremely hypertensive: having blood pressure readings over 160/100 mm/hg (a “normal” reading for a women would be around 110/75). For the training protocol, subjects lifted one set for 15 repetitions for a full body workout and completed this twice a week. At the end of the 14 week study, the subjects had a significant drop in systolic, diastolic, and mean arterial pressure (1). Not bad for two days a week of work!
So if you like aerobics, keep at it. However, if you dread the thought of running, rest assure that plenty of other activities out there to keep your ticker healthy. You could use resistance training by lifting loads between 8 to 12 repetitions; a great way to provide an aerobic benefit to your training would be to organize you movements into a circuit. You can also do circuits with our own bodyweight, pushing sleds, and carrying things.
1. Cunha Nascimento, D. Tibana, R.A., et al. “Sustained Effect of Resistance Training on Blood Pressure and Hand Grip Strength Following a Detraining Period in Elderly Hypertensive Women: a pilot study.” Clinical Interventions in Aging 9(2014): 219-225