Cardio. How much is enough?


In this last week of our Happy “Whole” Heart series, we summarize the research on cardio to give you the bottom line on how to enjoy the health benefits.

How intense does cardio need to be?

  • Moderate:  your breathing is at a comfortable level.
  • Vigorous:  your breathing is at a comfortable challenge.
  • You do not need to push to an uncomfortable breathing level unless 1) you enjoy it or 2) you are training to compete.

How often do I need to do cardio?

How long should a session of cardio last?

  • Moving most of your body continuously for at least 10 minutes helps your cardiovascular system gain more stamina.
  • String those bouts together in the way that works best for your body and your lifestyle to achieve 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous exercise.
  • However, just doing cardio leaves us missing some benefits of exercise.  If you want to preserve your metabolism, bone mass, muscle strength, and function for daily life,  switch out 30-60 of those minutes a week for a well-designed strength-training routine.

Bottom Line:

  • Do cardio at a moderate to comfortable challenge level for your breathing three days a week for 30 minutes (this can be broken up into 10 minute bouts as needed).
  • Do a well-designed strength training routine twice a week.

The fact is, “more than 50% American adults still do not meet these minimal requirements for cardiovascular exercise based on self-report, and only 10% of American adults meet these minimal guidelines when activity levels are measured with activity monitors.”  *

Why, with all these great benefits, are so many still not consistent enough with cardio?

Could it be in part becasue guilt reduces our brains ability to make changes? Could it have something to do with all the conflicting recommendations that stray from the solid evidence, making cardio overwhelming? When information about the benefits of cardio only leaves you feeling stuck, it is not helpful at all. It’s time we get back to basics and start enjoying a happy “whole” heart!

Ready for information presented in a way that builds confidence that you can stick with a cardio program? My new course called Cardio Confidence is designed to do just that.  Learn how to apply the science of healthy cardio to get the results you want in a way that lasts.

* Source: Exercise and the Cardiovascular System. Lavie, C, et. al.  Circulation Research (American Heart Association Journal) July 2, 2015.

Cardio protection. Instantly.

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Ready for some more amazing “Whole” Heart health news about cardio? If you are someone who likes instant results, you will really love this one!

Scientists estimate the long term effects of exercise training only explains 27-41% of the cardio-protective effects of exercise. That means all those great benefits seen in people who have a sufficient level of cardiovascular fitness are not just from being fit. What is giving the protection then?

It is starting to look like most of the heart protection from doing cardio comes instantly, with your first session. Scientists are calling it exercise pre-conditioning.  They found that there is an early phase of protection for the cardiovascular system for two to three hours after a bout of cardio. Then there is a “more robust and longer period of protection that emerges after 24 hours and remains for several days.” They found each session of cardio is “reactivating protective pathways and leading to ongoing beneficial effects.”

Wow! This is so amazing! Usually an exercise program that promises instant results is a red flag for a myth-based exercise program. Yet this is science-based information and it’s free and ready for you to enjoy after one moderate-intensity bout of cardio.

Regular cardio will provide strong cardioprotection that cannot be explained by the changes in risk factors or the changes over time in coronary arteries. Cardio has the ability to activate several pathways that bring immediate protection against heart events and reduce the severity of a heart event. Cardio acts as a physiologic first line of defense against heart attacks.

Reminder: this is a guilt-free journey—it’s just more information to highlight the positively powerful effects of doing cardio regularly. In the next blog, I’ll summarize how simple it can be to enjoy these benefits.

The beauty is in the details! If you feel stuck between wanting these great benefits and limited by your body, lifestyle, or lack of motivation, check out my new online course called Cardio Confidence.  It’s like having a consult with a  clinical exercise physiologist. You will learn the fact-based, user-friendly tools I share with my clients for getting the health, weight loss, and brain benefits while working around physical and lifestyle limitations.  

Source: Association of Exercise Preconditioning With Immediate Cardioprotection: A Review.  D. Thijssen, PhD., Journal of the American Heart Association.  November 29, 2017.

Valentine’s Day special offer!

happy-couple-cycling-in-canola-fields-picture-id178834556-2On February 14,  celebrate your “whole” heart with 10% off my new online course,  Cardio Confidence. This course is like having a consult with a clinical exercise physiologist. Some information you will already know, some will surprise you, either way you will come away with more confidence in your ability to enjoy the many benefits of cardio.

A lot of very good information, that nicely included that cardio does not have to be a sweat until you drop, go all out element of health.  ~ Cardio Confidence participant

Learn how to make cardio doable, even when you are low on time or motivation. You will learn how to work around physical limitations, maximize your weight loss benefits, and enjoy the brain boosting results from cardio. This fact-based approach to cardio means you are much more likely to get the results you want in a way that lasts.

This course makes getting into a routine of cardio less intimidating and overwhelming.  ~Cardio Confidence participant

Click here for more information and give your “whole” heart a Valentine’s Day gift!  Use the coupon code VALENTINE when checking out to receive your discount. Offer expires at midnight on February 14, 2018.

Cool cardio facts


We are on a Happy “Whole” Heart journey and there is so much great news to explore!  If  cardio is something you know you should do, whether you “just do it” or can’t do it,  you are in for a surprise! Today I share some very cool facts about cardiovascular exercise.  But first, a word of caution.

As highlighted in the first blog of this series, my goal is to inspire confidence, not guilt. As you read, if you feel guilty for not doing cardio for whatever reason, take a breath. This is not just one of those “do it because it’s good for you” or “here’s what could happen if you don’t do it” motivational blogs. Cardio that works with how your body and brain are designed boosts your energy and your motivation. When cardio leaves you feeling better physically and mentally, you are getting the “whole” heart health benefits. So if guilt or doubt starts to creep in, know that I won’t leave you hanging on  to guilt or fear as a motivator!

Cardio prevents heart disease.

  • Regular cardio leads to a 42%-44% reduction in the risk of developing heart disease.
  • Even people who got fit later in life reduced heart disease and cardiac deaths by  44%-52%, despite changes in body weight.

Cardio protects even if you have heart disease. 

  • It reduces the risk of dying from the disease.
  • It reduces the number of times you are admitted to the hospital.
  • Cardio improves prognosis after a heart event.
  • The benefits are greater than those seen from medications alone.

Cardio protects even if you have risk factors.

  • Protection is seen even in people with hypertension, obesity, type two diabetes.
  • People with risk factors who are fit have a better prognosis than people who are not fit with no risk factors.

    If you are at high risk with lots of risk factors, one of the absolute best ways to lower your risk is to improve cardiovascular fitness.*

If these facts inspire you, great! If reading this instills guilt, fear, or doubt because of low motivation, physical limitations, or limited time, stay tuned. You will see cardio IS possible!

Ready to lose the guilt and discover how cardio is possible?  Check out my new online course called Cardio Confidence.  It’s like having a consult with a  clinical exercise physiologist. You will learn the fact-based, user-friendly tools I share with my clients for getting the health, weight loss, and brain benefits while working around physical and lifestyle limitations.  

* Source: Exercise and the Cardiovascular System. Lavie, C, et. al.  Circulation Research (American Heart Association Journal) July 2, 2015.

Cardio and Weight (Loss)


Let’s begin our guilt-free, “Whole” Heart Health blog series with the risk factor for heart disease that is responsible for the most worry and guilt: body weight.

Overwhelmingly, when I ask clients why they want to lose weight, the answer is “I want to be healthy.”  We connect being overweight with being unhealthy and thin with being healthy. Ready for a shocker? The research does not support this when it comes to heart heath.

The “obesity paradox” is the term used when research shows people with a higher body weight have a lower risk of heart disease and premature death than those at a recommended body weight. But, as with so many things, the beauty is in the details! When fitness level is included in the data, there is no paradox! In every weight category, people who are fit had a lower risk of a heart event and better survival, even if they already have heart disease!

There is considerable evidence that high levels of cardio fitness eliminates or significantly lowers the risk of cardiac death in people who are overweight and obese, even in those with heart disease, high cholesterol and diabetes. Therefore, cardiac fitness is more important than obesity in long term prognosis.*

Here are some more key findings:

  • People who are unfit had double the risk of dying, regardless of body weight.
  • Year to year changes in fitness were better at predicting future risk of developing hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and high cholesterol than changes in body weight.
  • When people remained fit, even when body weight increased, their risk of  heart disease and risk of dying from any cause did not increase.
  • People with heart disease and heart failure but with preserved fitness had good survival regardless of body weight.

If you are looking to lose weight to be healthy, and are exercising regularly, be confident! You ARE healthy already. Let go of the worry, because it only drains health.  Certainly, there are other benefits of getting to your healthy weight. Based on the overwhelming evidence,  we can define a healthy weight as the weight that allows you to stay fit.

Later in this series we will look at how you can tell if you are fit enough to get these benefits.  In the meantime, check out this blog that explains the definition of fitness.

Do you struggle with being able to do cardio at your current weight? Check out my new online course called Cardio Confidence.  You will learn the fact-based information and helpful tips I give clients for doing cardio when carrying extra weight.  

* Source: Exercise and the Cardiovascular System. Lavie, C, et. al.  Circulation Research (American Heart Association Journal) July 2, 2015