Today there are so many different ideas of what it means to be fit, that it gets confusing to understand which category you fit in! Simply put, if you are able to perform your daily routine more efficiently than the last time, it means that you got fitter. Every person has a different routine and a different lifestyle, so the priority of activities will vary from person to person. Since some activities are of longer duration but low intensity and others of shorter duration but high intensity, the muscles that come into play differ as per activity considerably.

The heart, for instance, pumps blood through the blood vessels of the circulatory system. Blood provides the body with oxygen and nutrients, as well as assists in the removal of metabolic wastes. The heart is located between the lungs, in the middle compartment of the chest. There is a certain rhythm by which the heart contracts and relaxes while pumping blood. The smoother and more efficient this rhythm, the stronger is the cardiovascular system of that person. Since the heart is also a muscle, it gets stronger and healthier if you lead an active life, and obviously weaker if you live an unhealthy lifestyle.

On an average a human heart beats 72 times per minute. Any heart rate near this number is considered healthy. You can train the heart to beat less frequently while pumping more blood with the help of cardiovascular exercises. That is why, on an average, athletes have a lower heart rate than non-athletic people. 

Any organ in the body is like a machine and should be serviced regularly. Using these machines less and being able to extract maximum results will help preserve them for a longer duration. In short, you live longer. 

The heart, arguably the most important machine of them all, is no exception to this rule. Every person needs a strong heart, no matter what his/her profession might be. Other sets of muscles which need to be strengthened may vary according to the activities of the person, but the heart remains a common factor among all. Even taking a walk for 15 minutes each day can make a big difference if a person has a sedentary lifestyle.

Once you get going, you’ll start realising and appreciating results. The benefits of regular exercise and healthy eating go far beyond physical appearance; they improve mental focus and emotional health as well. 

People who don’t exercise are almost twice as likely to get heart disease than people who are active. Regular exercise can help you burn calories, lower your blood pressure, Reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol and boost your HDL or “good” cholesterol.

How to Start Exercising ?

Running, jogging, and biking are some examples. You must make sure you are moving fast enough to raise your heart rate and breathe harder, but at the same time, you should still be able to talk to someone while you’re doing it. Otherwise, you are pushing too hard.

If you have joint problems, choose a low-impact activity, like swimming or walking. Stretching is also a vital component of exercise; you’ll become more flexible if you do this a couple of times a week. Stretch your body only after a slight warm up and after finishing exercising. Stretch just so that you feel the stretch and not till it hurts. If you are training for strength, you can use weights, resistance bands, or your own body weight (yoga, for instance) for this. Such training 2-3 times a week is a good start. The intensity of any type of exercise can be increased or decreased as per one’s need. 

Healthy eating is also an important factor when it comes to being fit! To build a heart-healthy meal, reach for whole grains such as oatmeal, whole-grain cereals, or whole-wheat toast, lean protein sources such as turkey bacon or small servings of nuts or peanut butter, low-fat dairy products such as low-fat milk, yogurt, or cheese, fruits, and vegetables. 

Control your portion size; how much you eat is just as important as what you eat. Overloading your plate, taking seconds and eating until you feel stuffed can lead to eating more calories than you should. Portions served in restaurants are often more than anyone needs. Use a small plate or bowl to help control your portions. Eat larger portions of low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and smaller portions of high-calorie, high-sodium foods, such as refined, processed or fast foods. This strategy can shape up your diet as well as your heart and waistline.

Consuming alcohol beyond a certain quantity is also harmful to the heart and overall health. Every person handles alcohol differently, so a safe range is difficult to calculate, but considering that alcohol itself has more calories and hardly any nutrients compared to the risks of consuming it, the less it is consumed the better. Smoking tobacco is one habit that can injure the heart and overall health in a big way so again, better to avoid it as much as possible. 

The third important aspect of a fit lifestyle which people usually take lightly is ‘rest’. All the actual healing of any tissue of the body takes place during rest! A reasonable duration of peaceful REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is necessary for all. This duration too will vary from person to person. 

So, in short, the three main factors of a fit and healthy heart and lifestyle are: Exercise, the stimulus to progress, Nutrition, the fuel used to rebuild tissue, and Rest, when the actual rebuild and recovery takes place. Balancing these three is the key!

Sanatkumar Pundalik

Sanatkumar Pundalik is an ISSA certified personal trainer and a sports nutritionist.

The views and opinions expressed in the article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Tilak Chronicle and TTC Media Pvt Ltd.


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