Mar 29, 2021
3 Tips to Strengthening an Athlete’s Heart

Physical activity, in general, is a great way to maintain a healthy heart.

In fact, it’s one of the best tools to strengthen your heart muscle, maintaining weight, and fend off issues such as high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure — all of which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

But are all forms of physical activity equal? According to a recent report from CNN, when it comes to strengthening your heart muscle, they’re not.

Below is an excerpt from CNN’s report on strengthening your heart.

  1. Intervals vs. Steady-State Cardio
    Most athletes’ programs are not heavily stacked with steady-state cardio or moderate-intensity continuous training, known as MICT. For the most part, athlete strength and conditioning emphasizes interval training, moving from sets of one exercise to another. And this is generally performed in a high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, style, alternating bursts of intense exercise with slower, easier activity.

    heart“There is growing and robust evidence that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) shows similar or greater efficacy compared with MICT across a range of cardiovascular and metabolic measures, in both healthy populations and populations with a chronic illness,” according to 2018 research by Australian scientists at the University of New South Wales published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
    Further evidence of HIIT’s heart-strengthening ability was shown in a clinical trial of 93 patients with coronary artery disease published in JAMA Cardiology in 2020. After four weeks, cardiorespiratory fitness improved by 10% with HIIT compared to only 4% with MICT.
  2. Rest & Recovery
    “Getting good sleep isn’t just important for your energy levels — it’s critical for your heart health, too,” according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Adults who sleep less than 7 hours each night are more likely to say they have had health problems, including heart attack, asthma, and depression. Some of these health problems raise the risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.”
    » ALSO SEE: 2 ATCs Save Referee’s Life during Football Game

    That’s why many professional sports teams leverage the advice of sleep experts and invest in resources, like napping rooms and sleep pods at their facilities, to help their athletes get optimal rest.

  3. Heart-Healthy Nutrition
    “With an awareness of the importance of heart health, we include lean protein in every meal and encourage Omega-3 rich protein snacks, like trail mix,” said Jeremy Chiang, Toronto Blue Jays Major League dietitian. “Every meal also consists of fruits and vegetables covering half the plate while staying mindful about the amount of starchy carbs based on training and playing time.”

    That kind of meal planning isn’t just appropriate for pro athletes but a good rule of thumb for anyone who is health-conscious.

To read the full story from CNN, click here

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