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A heartfelt thanks to the most important muscle, and ways to make it stronger

A heartfelt thanks to the most important muscle, and ways to make it stronger

A little quiz: Which of your muscles is most important? And which is the hardest working?

The answers are your heart and…your heart.

Sure, your glutes, abs, biceps, triceps, quadriceps and countless more of your 640-plus muscles get a workout during a fitness class. But keep your heart at the forefront of your focus. Because when your heart is healthy, so are you – physically, emotionally and mentally.

“There are so many things we want people to know,” says Eduardo Sanchez, MD and Chief Medical Officer of Prevention at the American Heart Association, “so I’ll try to be pithy: A healthy heart equals a longer, healthier life.”

Benefits of a Healthier Heart

Heart health is crucial for overall well-being, offering a range of benefits that contribute to a healthier and more fulfilling life:

  • Preventing Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke: Maintaining heart health is a key factor in preventing cardiovascular disease and stroke, Sanchez says. These conditions remain the No. 1 and No. 5 killers of people in America.
  • Reduced Cognitive Decline: A healthy heart is linked to reduced cognitive decline. This connection can help delay or lower the chances of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia.
  • Enhanced Emotional Health: Heart health is associated with strong emotional well-being. It can help keep severe and frequent episodes of depression much lower.
  • Better Sleep Quality: Prioritzing heart health contributes to improved sleep quality. Taking care of your heart can positively impact sleep patterns, promoting restful and rejuvenating sleep.

“Heart health might be the silver bullet,” Sanchez says, “and we want to promote that because it’s so important."

Physical Activity promotes a Healthy Heart

Orangetheory values heart health and collaborates year-round with the American Heart Association. Which is why during Heart Health Month every February, Orangetheory hosts 90-minute fundraising classes for the American Heart Association. It’s why members enthusiastically participate in Go Red Day. And why Orangetheory’s social channels “go red” with heart-related content during February.

Orangetheory values science-backed physical activity recommendations. And physical activity – along with healthy eating, weight management and keeping numbers like blood pressure and cholesterol in check – is one of the leading ways to obtain and maintain a healthy heart.

“Physical activity,” says Orangetheory research scientist Brittany Masteller, Ph.D., “is one of the modifiable risk factors for heart disease. It’s often talked about like a ‘medicine’ when taken in the right dose.”

So what is the right dose? According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity per week, at least 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both; plus strength training at least two days a week. Monitoring and adjusting your exercise intensity within the appropriate heart rate zones can help to personalize your fitness routine, maximizing its effectiveness and health benefits.

Orangetheory is the leader in the “equivalent combination of both” recommended guidelines. That’s because of MVPA, a science-based acronym that stands for moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity. So while you may have never heard of it, you live it in every Orangetheory class.

6 Tips to Improve Heart Health

Here are some tips on how to improve and maintain a healthy heart:

1. All movement counts. “If you can move a finger, move that finger,” Dr. Sanchez says. “Movement equals a longer, healthier, emotionally better life.”

2. Find what works for YOU. “If you don’t like to run, walk,” he says. “If you don’t like to walk, swim. If you don’t like to swim, garden. If you like to do housekeeping, do it vigorously. There is always something. Moving is the critical thing.”

3. Build a support system. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, Dr. Masteller says, “adults are more likely to participate in physical activity when they are supported by others.

4. It’s never too late to start. “Incorporating physical activity into your life will have benefits regardless of when you start,” Dr. Masteller says. If you haven’t worked out in a while though, checking in with your doctor first is a good idea.

5. Set SMART and reasonable goals. “SMART,” she says, “stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Rather than jumping in head-first, start slowly and in a way that feels manageable with your ability, life and schedule.”

6. Remember why you’re doing this. “With physical activity,” Dr. Sanchez says, “you don’t have to be trying to achieve a sculpted body look. It’s about the health of your heart.”

Keeping a Healthy Heart

Embracing a heart-healthy lifestyle is a significant way to honor the most crucial muscle in your body. Yes, it requires some lifestyle adjustments and dedication, but the rewards are immense. It's about showing gratitude to your heart for its tireless work, every beat of the way. A strong heart isn't just about living longer; it's about improving the quality of each day of your life. Orangetheory is here to guide and support you on this empowering journey. Let's keep our hearts beating strong, together.


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