February is American Heart Month and it’s almost impossible to think about heart health without thinking about exercise. No one can question the role of exercise in preventing many heart conditions and improving heart health. The American Heart Association states that “the simplest, positive change you can make to effectively improve your heart health is to start walking.” While genetics play a role, there are so many factors and conditions that can be controlled.
A recent conversation with a newly retired friend prompted me to think less about the role of exercise in preventing heart disease, but more about the role of exercise in improving health and slowing the progression, once a person has been diagnosed.
After a few health scares, my friend has decided to make some lifestyle choices. He is obese, sedentary, has high blood pressure, high cholesterol and at high risk for heart attack and stroke. He has a family history of heart disease and has already been diagnosed with COPD.
He hired a personal trainer at a local club and has begun a routine of resistance training three times a week. The exercise prescription he shared seemed sound and sensible and based on extensive assessments. What I was more concerned about was that to incorporate cardiovascular exercise, the trainer recommended my friend take 2 group exercise classes per week. He didn’t get any guidance as to which classes would be safest and most appropriate, but was told to “find something he enjoyed.”
My friend seemed to select classes that had great instructors who monitored the participants and their intensity. So far, so good, and he’s having a blast. I started thinking about how challenging it must be to monitor an entire class, keeping everyone safe, in a group exercise environment.
I’d love to hear from all of you— what are your thoughts about such a “high risk” person attending group exercise classes? What are some tips and tricks group exercise instructors can do to keep everyone safe—especially in a large class. I’ve attended classes that I found to be potentially dangerous and needed to monitor my own intensity and modify moves. But how does a beginning exerciser know how to do this?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
And FYI—W.I.T.S. is running a fabulous special this month on our online group exercise continuing education courses. Call and ask about the February promotions and special discounts! Great membership discounts as well! 888-330-9487