The couch potato's guide to increasing cardiovascular strength.

Updated: Sep 10, 2019




Listen to the full podcast here.


Here's your homework for this episode.


If you complete this assignment it will increase your cardiovascular endurance.


Your Assignment

  1. Download the workout template.

  2. Print it.

  3. Create your own exercise plan.

  4. Find a buddy to keep you accountable.

  5. Continue this every week for two years.




Below you can learn more about the research behind this information and why it's important for your health.

Research gives hope for those who have spent years forgetting to exercise.


Lack of exercise is a major risk factor to our heart health. But what if you could reverse some of the damage done to your heart from spending years chained to your desk being a high-performer for others?


The results of a new study are in, and they offer a message of hope. I'm going to walk you through the results of the study and give you a recommendation for exercise based on its conclusions. I'll also show you the exact workout plans that I created for myself this week based on the recommendations.


If you want me to just tell you which exercises to do and you don't care about the research or data behind it, then skip down to the section titled, "Bottom Line: Here's Your Exercise Plan."


This study made the news media circuit; several of you forwarded articles to me because you knew I'd be interested in this study. Thank you! Even though the report is a good news story, most of the headlines disappointed me because they danced all around the topic, but didn't give solid direction on how we can apply it to our lives. How can we use this data to improve our health and fitness?


Let's take a look at this now.


The research on increasing cardio strength.


Scientists had participants follow an exercise plan for two years and then reported on the health benefits participants experienced.


What I liked about this particular study is that it used middle-aged folks like us! I know, it's hard to believe we are middle-aged, but if you have celebrated your 40th, 50th, or more, then this is you. I also appreciated that the study was about 50/50 men and women.


The participants were given an exercise regimen to follow. However, unlike other studies where participants had to follow an exact routine, these folks had flexibility to choose what types of activities they enjoyed. Participants could exercise in ways they enjoyed in their real life. They weren't being crammed into a box for the sake of science.


This is important because it means we can more likely adapt their successes into our unique lives in a way that makes sense for us.


After two years, scientists reported the following conclusions.


Here is the exact quote of the conclusions from the study.


Conclusions— In previously sedentary healthy middle-aged adults, 2 years of exercise training improved maximal oxygen uptake and decreased cardiac stiffness. Regular exercise training may provide protection against the future risk of heart failure with a preserved ejection fraction by preventing the increase in cardiac stiffness attributable to sedentary aging.


Let's unpack why the paragraph above got me so jazzed.


VO2 MAX - what is it and why should I care?


The individuals who successfully completed the exercise plan saw an average increase in their VO2 Max of 18 percent!


Friends, this is huge! Let me explain.


VO2 Max (maximal oxygen uptake) is a common measure used to determine your overall fitness. It measures how well your body can absorb and use oxygen. The higher your VO2 Max, the more endurance you have when exercising.


For example, if your VO2 Max is very poor, you'll get winded climbing a single flight of stairs. If your VO2 Max is good, you might not even notice the flight of stairs. The increase in VO2 Max shifted some participants from "poor" to "good" and others from "fair" to "excellent."


High VO2 Max = more energy.


What is decreased cardiac stiffness?


This is the other exciting conclusion.


Our sedentary lifestyles tend to cause our arteries to stiffen as we age. It's a lot more complicated than that, but our take away here is knowing that our sedentary lifestyles put us at a greater risk of cardiac issues. This study showed that we may be able to reverse some of this damage through exercise.


I am oversimplifying here, but essentially, by the end of the study, the participants' hearts pumped more blood volume with each heartbeat. This is good.


We already know that exercise is good for our hearts. Now we have another study to support that knowledge. The pile of evidence linking exercise to heart health keeps getting bigger and bigger!


Okay, enough of the technical specs.


What should our exercise look like if we want to be like the participants in the study?

BOTTOM LINE: Here's your exercise plan.


If you have skipped to this section without reading the article above, that's ok. Just know that this exercise plan helped improve the cardiovascular health of middle-aged adults who were previously living sedentary lifestyles.


Consult your physician before starting any exercise program. You already know this, don't you?


If the exercise plan below includes more exercise than you currently do, then do NOT jump right into this plan. Spend four to six months slowly building up to this level of exercise. Pay very close attention to staying injury free, and pick activities you enjoy.


Participants followed this plan consistently for two years. They key here, folks, is consistency. They weren't weekend warriors and they didn't let weeks slip by without exercise.


Consistency was key.


A WORKOUT TEMPLATE FOR YOU!


It's your turn!


All of this data is fine and dandy, but it is pretty much worthless if we don't apply it to our lives.


The link below takes you to a file you can download that includes the guidelines above and a template to create your own exercise plan.

  1. Download the workout template.

  2. Print it.

  3. Create your own plan.

  4. Find a buddy to keep you accountable.

  5. Continue this every week for two years.

Yes, you heard me right - two full years! You are a human being who needs exercise.

This is not a luxury.

This is not selfish.

This is science.

You are worth it!

My Exact Workout Plan

I am transparent about practicing what I preach. This is why I have included an image below of my exact workout plan for next week using the workout template I have created for you!


The black and white image is my actual workout plan for the week of April 1-7, 2018. It is what I will be doing to meet the workout goals, respect my asthma, enjoy my exercise, and accommodate my crazy-as-bananas life! If you are reading this blog in real time, I invite you to check in with me on my progress.


It's your turn!


Decide now what you will do with this information. I'm direct because I have nothing but compassion and love for you. I know you need someone in your court giving you the nudge you need to make the progress you want. Again, if this is more exercise than you normally do, then consult your physician and spend four to six months working yourself up to this level.


To get started, download this guide below.


Download the guide.


Link to original research study: http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2018/01/03/CIRCULATIONAHA.117.030617


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The COUCH to ACTIVE Podcast is hosted by award winning author Lyn Lindbergh.


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