Exercise has always been regarded as a means of keeping your heart strong. But new medical research finds working out with a partner can make exercise more enjoyable, while also helping to build the strength of the relationship between you and your valentine.
“Exercising is always more fun when people do it with others, so picking ones that can be done together is a great idea for Valentine’s Day,” Dr. Benjamin Levine tells Newsmax Health.
Levine is an exercise specialist whose new medical study demonstrated recently that exercise can reverse aging of the heart — even in people who are in their 60s.
“Exercise can reverse damage to aging hearts and help prevent risk of future heart failure — if it’s enough exercise, and if it’s begun in time,” says Levine, director of the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine (IEEM) at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas and professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
According to Levine, the exercise regimen must be done four to five times a week for maximum effectiveness — two to three times weekly was not enough.
Also, the exercise plan should be started before the age of 65, but if you’re a few years older, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, he says.
“There is no magic about the number 65, this is just the age when the U.S. government defines old age, or at least old enough to qualify for Medicare,” says Levine.
“Results likely depend more on your biological than chronological age.”
A person’s “chronological age” is the number of years he or she has lived, versus based on the health of a body’s components, such as the cardiovascular system.
This is what Levine’s study found to be an ideal exercise regimen:
Exercise four or five times a week, generally in 30-minute sessions, plus warmup and cool-down.
Include a high-intensity 30-minute aerobic workouts for one weekly session, followed by a recovery period of relatively lower intensity.
Engage in an hour of moderate-intensity exercise for another session. Add one or two other exercise sessions other days of the week.
Devote one or two weekly sessions to strength training, using weights or exercise machines. These can be performed on the same days as other workout sessions, or on other days.
“People don’t need to perform the entire program immediately, says Levine.
It’s a good idea to build up gradually to peak levels by doing at least three 30-minute sessions of moderate exercise weekly for the first three months, before adding the high-intensity aerobic intervals and other workouts, he notes.
“Moderate activity,” means breaking a sweat, and being a little short of breath but still able to carry on a conversation. This is also known as the “talk test.”
For Levine, the most important goal is to figure out how to craft exercise into your schedule.
“When life gets busy, exercise often is the first task to be sacrificed. But physical activity needs to be a part of daily personal hygiene, like brushing your teeth or taking a shower,” says Levine, who follows a program similar to the one he recommends.
He also says that Valentine’s Day is an excellent time to start an exercise program, because couples can do this regimen together.
“Exercising with a partner helps to ensure compliance because when one doesn’t want to do it, sometimes the other one nudges them along,” Levine says.
Here are Levine’s examples of ideal couple’s activities, which would fit into the “moderate” portion of the exercise plan:
Taking a brisk walk.
Levine also offers these cautions before embarking on an exercise program:
Consult your doctor first if you haven’t exercised in the past and are older than 35.
If you are just starting to exercise, begin gradually and work your way up, to avoid injuring yourself.
If you experience chest pain or dizziness with exercise, stop what you are doing and consult your doctor.
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