Our hearts are what keep us alive, and we should aim to keep them healthy our entire lives – this means regular exercise, clean eating, and avoiding substances that may harm us, like drugs…yes that includes smoking and alcohol.
With regular exercise, using this very scientific method to train and improve our cardiovascular fitness, we can save our hearts from disease.
This “very scientific method” I speak of is the very basic principle called, F.I.T.T.
In a nutshell, the F.I.T.T Principle is basically an exercise prescription, which one can use to create any workout routine to fit their needs.
The acronym stands for Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type.
In order to improve your Aerobic capacity – aerobic meaning WITH oxygen (so, the kind of exercise which is usually longer, rhythmic, less intense, and requires the use of large muscles – think marathon…), one needs to train (F) 3-6 days a week, at about (I) 50-90% of your maximum heart rate, for (T) 20-60 minutes.
The other cardiovascular system that our body uses is the Anaerobic system – anaerobic meaning WITHOUT oxygen.
I don’t know if you remember biology from high school, but basically this system does not use oxygen to create energy (a.k.a ATP), rather it uses creatine phosphate, and once it runs out of that, the system uses carbohydrates. When our system metabolizing these carbs it leaves behind a waste product called, lactate acid. This lactate acid is what causes us to fatigue, thus anaerobic exercise consists of short bursts of high intensity using large muscle groups.
Once we start exercising for a longer period of time, and we start breathing more, and our heart starts pumping more blood, there is more oxygen circulating, so our body will automatically switch to the aerobic system (using oxygen to convert our food to energy).
(Sorry, I felt like I needed to explain that, even though I feel like I have talked about those 2 systems far too much in the past.)
All that being said, the F.I.T.T prescription to train our Anaerobic capacity is slightly different to the Aerobic training prescription because we will need to switch between high intensity and low intensity exercise, or else our body will switch to the aerobic system and start using oxygen to create energy.
Anaerobic training should be done (F) 3-4 days a week, at about (I) 85-100% of your maximum heart rate, for about (T) 45 seconds with active rest.
So, an example of this would be sprinting for 10 seconds, and walking for 30 seconds. A good work to rest ratio would be 1:3 or 1:6.
Any way, moral of the story: cardio sux butt – just get it done.