The Fitness Factor

When someone asks you if you’re fit, what do they mean? Do you exercise for 150 minutes a week? Are you strong? Are you flexible?

According to the Dr. Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease ™, a lifestyle-modifying, intense cardiac rehabilitation program, a well-balanced fitness routine includes all of that and more. When you’re involved in the program, you’re encouraged to participate in regular, moderate aerobic exercise for three to five hours a week — typically done in increments of 30 minutes a day.

Regular aerobic exercise provides you with myriad health benefits, specifically to the heart. As a result of this moderate exercise, you can increase oxygen to the heart, decrease blood pressure, decrease triglycerides and blood sugar, reduce the risk of blood clots and plaque buildup, and lose weight while making it easier for you to move.

Principles of the Ornish program aren’t hard to follow, as it embraces the FITT principle:

F: Frequency. You should be exercising three to six times weekly.

I: Intensity. Using information gleaned from a treadmill test, you should be exercising at 45 to 80 percent of your maximum functional heart rate capacity.

T: Time. The Ornish program recommends three to five hours of exercise weekly, split into increments of 30 to 60 minutes.

T: Type. Aerobic exercises that typically force you to move continuously — such as dancing, bicycling, swimming, walking and jogging — are best for your heart.

Even if you don’t need cardiac rehab, you can take steps to incorporate these techniques into a healthy lifestyle. Once you’re actively strengthening your heart and lungs with aerobic exercise, you’re encouraged to incorporate strength training into your fitness routine two or three times weekly, using a similar FITT philosophy.

The exercise program, which also meets the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Heart Association, can help you ease into exercise and then embrace it for a lifetime of better living.

The Dr. Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease is available at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital. For more information about our intensive cardiac rehabilitation services, call 817-960-6475.


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