Hi Chad, how much cardio do you recommend per week for heart health? I lift weights also, so I want to combat the artery stiffening effects of lifting heavier weights. Thanks.
Hi, Tom. I generally suggest 3 cardio sessions per week for most people. For people performing high-intensity interval training (wind sprints), I recommend limiting cardio sessions lasting no longer than 20 minutes.
People who do lower intensity forms of cardio (e.g., brisk walking), then exercise up to an hour are acceptable. That is, provided you aren’t a laborer who engages in exhausting physical activity during the day. If you’re a construction worker, freight handler, firefighter, foundry worker, or you load and unload trucks for a living—then you may actually do yourself more harm than good by incorporating a significant amount of cardio in addition to your job.
What The Studies Show
There have has been numerous studies conducted that have actually demonstrated how performing too much cardio can cause harmful, structural changes within the heart that may result in a decreased lifespan.
To your point, though, research has also shown that heavy lifting can trigger temporary surges in blood pressure that can stun, or shock, the arteries in our bodies, causing them to stiffen up. Although a reasonable amount of cardio training can help minimize this effect, I feel the most important factor involved in maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system is our dietary habits.
Omega 3 fatty acids DHA & EPA help strengthen our arteries. When these fatty acid levels are inadequate, our bodies will substitute them with cholesterol and omega 6. This can have a hardening effect on our arteries, making us more susceptible to serious health complications.
What To Eat, What Not To Eat
That being said, I think it’s extremely important to obtain plenty of Omega 3 in your diet through fish oil, krill oil, wild caught salmon, herring, avocado, and extra virgin olive oil for cooking, and preparing homemade salad dressings.
Also, try and avoid food products like margarine, vegetable oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, grape seed oil, and sunflower oils. These fats are all extremely high in omega 6, and low in omega 3. Whenever you buy any type of processed foods, read over the ingredients listed to make sure they’re not made with these types of fats.
Moreover, incomplete calcium metabolism can cause calcium build up on arterial walls and exacerbate artery weakening and damage. Supplementing with vitamin D-3 and vitamin MK-7 (enhanced K-2) may help prevent calcium from accumulating in the WRONG places in our bodies, like our heart, arteries, kidneys, tendons, and joints. Instead, it helps direct it to where calcium should be going, which is in our bones!
MK-7 and vitamin D-3 can be purchased at most health foods stores and a plethora of online supplements stores. As humans, we can get a significant amount of vitamin D through sun exposure when we’re engaging in outdoor activities.
Since I live in a cold weather state, I can attest to the fact that this is not desirable or realistic every single day! In other words, I’m a regular consumer of vitamin D-3 supplements year round.
I hope this information helps resolve your questions. I wish you all the best of success with your training, and health!
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