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Move for fitness

Jumpstart your usual cardiovascular routine—and transform your health.

By Joan Teotico


Cardiovascular exercise offers many health benefits backed by science and medical experts: stopping weight gain in its tracks; elevating our mood; protecting heart health; and bolstering our defenses against contracting diseases. There’s also evidence that exercising regularly may add years to our life: In a 2012 study published in PLOS Medicine, researchers found a link between exercise and longevity.


Running revitalized the health of Hermogenes Saludes, M.D., FPCP, FPCC. The 36-year-old interventional cardiologist runs either on the treadmill or the streets of Metro Manila for at least an hour up to six times per week. His program includes uphill training, long-distance running greater than 15 kilometers and weight training to strengthen his leg, back and core muscles. Formerly tipping the scales at 220 pounds, Dr. Saludes has shed 75 pounds in seven months and has maintained his running weight—between 136 to 140 pounds—for more than a year. “My main motivation is my family,” shares Dr. Saludes. “ … I want to live long and be able to work and provide for them.”


“Designed for motion”

At the launch of Pilipinas Go4Health, a nationwide healthy lifestyle movement, Department of Health (DoH) Secretary Enrique Ona, M.D., states: “One of the keys to good health is regular exercise. The human body is designed for motion. Daily physical activity is for everyone—from the very young to the very old.”


Rency Magsino-Caga-anan, R.N.D, ACE-C.P.T., elite personal trainer and nutritionist-dietitian of Fitness First in Bonifacio Global City, says cardiovascular exercises are “movements or exercises designed for the lungs, heart and the circulatory system.”


Stressed? Feeling blue? Break a sweat for mood-boosting results. “The stimulation of endorphins, the so-called happy hormones, increases the oxygenation to the brain, resulting to a very good disposition,” says Anthony Leachon, M.D., FPCP., DoH consultant on Non-communicable Diseases. Besides promoting weight loss and preventing weight gain, exercise safeguards our heart health by “essentially increasing good cholesterol [so that] you will … diminish the deposition of your fats in the coronary arteries—leading to a reduction of coronary artery disease,” adds Dr. Leachon.


Despite the calls, campaigns, admonitions and exhortations of our doctors and the government, however, only seven out of 100 Filipino adults engage in vigorous exercise at least three or four times a week, according to the 7th National Nutrition Survey findings of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology.


Crank up your cardio

Magsino-Caga-anan suggests this cardio workout plan, which can be done outdoors or on the treadmill, for all fitness levels. Cardiovascular exercises, she explains, improve blood circulation, endurance, and the capacity of our lungs and heart to perform their specific functional tasks. In addition, the routine helps burn fat and tones the thighs, glutes, legs and calves. She recommends beginners to stick to the routine consistently—three to four times a week—for two weeks, after which they may increase progression to the intermediate and advanced levels. A heart rate monitor helps optimize the workout.


Nutrition and hydration are also important. Magsino-Caga-anan recommends drinking 400 ml to 500 ml of water two hours before the workout and eating a light snack, like a sandwich or crackers. Exercise approximately two hours after major meals.


Before engaging in any type of exercise program or workout routine, have your doctor or specialist assess your risk factors. To prevent injuries, Dr. Leachon recommends working with an exercise physiologist or personal trainer. For elderly patients, he cautions against high-impact and high-intensity exercises and suggests exercising on a stationary bicycle or doing gentle exercises such as Pilates.

Some exercises Magsino-Caga-anan recommends are: walking, running, cycling, swimming, rowing, aerobic classes, step training, hiking, trekking, jumping rope, dancing, stair climbing and housekeeping. Grab a copy of the HealthToday August issue for a step-by-step cardiovascular workout that fits your fitness level and goals.

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