You might be fit, but are you protecting your heart health?
Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death worldwide. It can even happen to someone as fit as a bodybuilder.
In sports where the muscle mass of the large muscles of the body must contract at maximum capacity such as, for example, in bodybuilding, weightlifting, powerlifting, and strongman, the intensity of effort is the master and the heart muscle undergoes concentric hypertrophy. This is especially true of the left ventricle, which determines the ejection capacity. Therefore, it is possible to have a hypertrophic heart (thickening of the left ventricle). Dirty bulking can increase cholesterol and lead to heart problems. Over-dosing on certain supplements can even put your heart at risk.
It’s important to check in with your doctor, monitor your heart rate, eat clean, keep stress low, get plenty of sleep, and supplement appropriately. Let’s take a closer look at what that looks like.
How to Keep Your Heart Healthy
February is Heart Health Month. Here are some tips to keep your heart healthy.
1 Know Your Numbers
According to the Group Health Research Foundation, healthy men and women should have their cholesterol checked every five years and their blood pressure checked every two years. Men should begin wellness visits at age 35 and women at 45.
Purchase a home blood-pressure monitoring unit. Adult blood pressure is considered normal at 120/80.
Get a physical with full blood work in your twenties to help determine if you have any risk factors. Ask about your family history as well. Your risk of heart disease and stroke greatly increases if a parent has suffered from either before age 55.
2 Go to Sleep
Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to a multitude of health issues, including well-known contributors to heart disease like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and impaired glucose tolerance. The more active you are during the day, the easier it will be for you to sleep at night.
You can set up your sleeping environment to promote deeper sleep by removing all artificial light, installing blackout curtains, or downloading some relaxation sounds for extra sleep aids.
3 Get it On
Sex can increase your heart rate and blood pressure as much as climbing a flight of stairs would. One study suggests that men who orgasm three or more times per week reduce the risk of heart attack by as much as 50 percent—which may be caused by the release of the hormone DHEA. Sex also releases beneficial hormones that reduce stress, cause relaxation, and improve sleep.
4 Don’t Exercise Excessively
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, it’s recommended that you log about 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise per week to keep your heart healthy. Some of you probably accomplish this in a few days!
A review study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that some endurance athletes who exercised at very high intensities over a long duration were at a greater risk of developing heart problems than those who exercised more moderately.
As the saying goes, too much of any one thing is not always a good thing. Different exercises stress the heart in different ways, and too much of any one form can push you into the higher-risk spectrum.
Lifting 3-5 times per week is not going to increase cardiac risk for most people, and the same goes for those who run less than 30 miles per week.