Healthy Heart

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In CNN Health, Dana Santas, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and mind-body coach in professional sports, has an interesting article about how to keep our heart healthy.

When you think of professional athletes training, you might have an image of impossibly grueling workouts that the average person could never get through. That isn’t exactly accurate. The biggest difference between the way the general public works out and how the pros approach training is style. [..] According to a recent study of nearly 800 professional athletes diagnosed with Covid-19, less than 1% developed cardiac injury.

In the article Dana stresses that although general public could not afford athlete styled training but there are numerous heart-healthy measures used by the pros that can be adopt in our own life.

Dana suggests the following three ways, anybody can strengthen their heart like a pro athlete:

  • Exercise in intervals vs. steady-state cardio : Most 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. {…] After four weeks, cardiorespiratory fitness improved by 10% with HIIT (high-intensity interval training) compared to only 4% with MICT (moderate-intensity continuous training).
  • Prioritize rest and recovery : The importance of rest and recovery cannot be overstated for both professional athletes and the general population. Every aspect of a person’s physical well-being relies on the ability to recover. The heart muscle is no exception. “Getting good sleep isn’t just important for your energy levels — it’s critical for your heart health, too. 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,” according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Take a heart-healthy approach to nutrition : Professional sports teams understand that nutrition fuels the bodies of their athletes. That’s why teams employ nutrition experts to ensure the food served to their players not only fuels their performance but also enhances and maintains their overall health, including heart health. “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. 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,” according to Jeremy Chiang, Toronto Blue Jays Major League dietitian.

According to Chiang, the food should limited on saturated and trans fats but prioritize on hydration. “We need to be hydrated to properly absorb nutrients, and, without adequate hydration, blood thickens, putting more stress on the heart.” Chiang recommends hydrating with half your body weight in ounces of fluid, adding more based on activity level.

Even taking few steps or from pro athlete pages from their playbook for cardiac health, one can work toward becoming a pro athlete at heart, says Dana Santas.