At the Heart of What Matters

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Your Personal Trainer, Olivia C. Rossi, RN, MSN,
As a cardiac rehabilitation nurse for over thirty years and a Certified Personal Trainer and Clinical Exercise Specialist with the American College of Sports Medicine, lifestyle change is at the heart of what I do.  I consider the heart to be the most important muscle of the body.  It is a muscle that has its own intrinsic pacemaker and rhythm.  Its function is to beat, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week delivering oxygen to every cell of your body for as long as you live.  How well it does that has a lot to do with how you choose to live.  Your heart is one muscle but it is supported by the rest of you, all of the other muscles of your body that get you around from day to day.  If you keep those other muscles in good form, it can make the job that your heart has to do a lot easier.  That is one of the benefits of exercise.

It is my intention in this first article of Your Personal Trainer to present an overview of the three components of a balanced exercise program.  They include:

• Aerobic exercise for cardiovascular endurance.  This includes walking, biking, swimming, jogging, running, etc. The frequency, duration and intensity at which you perform these exercises will depend on your goals.  It will also help                                     determine your overall level of fitness with the added benefit of improving your ability to carry out activities of daily living.

• Resistance or strength training to improve the strength, size and tone of muscles.  This includes hand weights, resistance bands, weight machines, etc.  The importance of resistance training at all stages of life can determine later bone health, especially in women, in the prevention of osteoporosis.

• Flexibilty which includes stretches and range of motion exercises to improve performance in sports, daily activities, and to reduce the risk of injury.

Each of these is an integral part of a balanced exercise program.  If you are not yet involved in an exercise program of any kind, the best thing you can do for yourself is to begin by moving.  “How much?” you may ask.  More than you are now.  “Moving how?” you may ask.  Begin by walking, ten minutes at a time with the goal of gradually increasing your time to thirty minutes, 3-5 days a week.  It starts with that first step.  The main benefit of aerobic exercise is that over time your heart becomes stronger, beats fewer times per minute but beats more blood per beat and delivers oxygen more efficiently. That’s why your resting heart rate decreases as you become more aerobically fit, and it also demonstrates how using the support muscles of your body benefits the main muscle, your heart.

In future issues, I will address women’s fitness as it relates to health over the lifespan.  I will include physical activity and exercise and how each relates to reducing the risk not only for developing cardiovascular disease and stroke, but also osteoporosis, obesity and diabetes.  I will cover prevention of back injuries, the best way to lose weight and keep it off, guidelines for exercising at any age, how to start an exercise program, and most importantly, how to keep going.  I welcome  questions, comments and suggestions for discussion and look forward to being Your Personal Trainer.

Yours in fitness,
Olivia C. Rossi, RN, MSN
Certified Clinical Exercise Specialist, ACSM
Certified Personal Trainer, ACSM