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Intervals for the Heart

Tuesday, February 2, 2021
Posted by: Robin Fortenberry

Cardiovascular training is one of the best ways to improve your heart health.

It improves blood circulation, which helps to not only increase oxygen levels but also helps heart, lungs and other organs to operate more effectively. Exercises such as running, cycling, rowing and swimming are some of the most common forms of cardio training. But even with all the positive effects of cardio training, many avoid it. Some people find it boring while others feel that they just don't have the time to include cardio in their daily workout.

One way to get more out of your cardio is to add interval training. Interval training combines short bursts of high effort and output followed by a recovery period performed at a much lower rate of effort. Here are some tips and suggestions for interval training.

  • Intervals can be performed using any form of cardiovascular exercise. 
  • Start with a ratio of 1:2 interval to recovery. This means your recovery should be twice as long as your interval. For example, if your interval is 30 seconds, your recovery should be 1 minute. 
  • Warm up at a steady state first and end with a cool down. 
  • Include only 2 to 3 intervals on your first try. You can add more as you adapt to the anaerobic effect. 
  • Make sure that there is a definite difference in effort between the interval and the recovery. 

Here is a sample workout that can be done on a treadmill, elliptical or rower.

Total time for this workout is roughly 25 minutes. A point of reference for effort level is that at 50% most people can still hold a brief conversation. At 70% effort, conversation should be difficult and not desired. 

  1. Warm up 5 to 7 minutes at a steady pace at a 50% effort rate. 
  2. Increase to a 70% level and hold steady for 10 minutes. 
  3. Complete 5 interval sets of 15 second intervals to 30 seconds rest. Intervals should be performed at a 85% to 90% effort rate and recovery should be done at a 50% rate. 
  4. Cool down for 5 minutes at an effort rate of 50% 

Hopefully adding intervals will not only make your cardio days more challenging but also more fun and effective. 

For more information, you can contact me, Robin Fortenberry, at rfortenberry@erjcchouston.org.

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