As someone who worked out 3-4 times a week at a traditional gym pre-COVID, it’s been hard trying to figure out the best ways to exercise while we practice staying home/staying healthy. I also live in a tiny apartment in West Seattle with neighbors below me, so working out mostly consists of running outside (and sadly making turns or crossing the street when I see my neighbors on the sidewalk), living room yoga or working out with the minimal equipment my boyfriend has in his garage (he is pretty much the only other person I see these days). All of this got me thinking about maintaining heart health these days, so I asked Dr. Philip Massey and Dr. Kyle Jordan at Pacific Medical Centers some questions I had (this was all via email to maintain proper social distancing!).
With everyone social distancing now due to the COVID-19 outbreak and gyms being closed, can you talk to us about how effective workouts like Peloton and Mirror are compared to a traditional gym workout (i.e. treadmill, weights, etc.)?
Over the past few years, heart monitoring has become incredibly popular. This type of monitoring focuses on your heart’s activity and provides people with an indication of how hard they are working out. A lot of new and popular fitness regimes, including Orangetheory Fitness, Peloton and Mirror, all rely heavily on heart rate. Again, this is incredibly useful information when you need to understand whether you are working out in a healthy range.
At Pacific Medical Centers, we have noticed heart monitoring to be particularly useful for those who are not necessarily as familiar with working out and knowing what range their heart should be in to ensure they are partaking in a healthy and safe workout. The formula to calculate your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age. So, if you’re 50 years old, your maximum heart rate would be 170 beats per minute, and your training zone would be around 85 to 145 beats per minute. This is 50-85 percent of one’s maximum heart rate.
How accurate is heart monitoring technology and should we all be doing this?
While nothing is 100 percent accurate, I do believe smartwatches provide more positives than negatives and have no issue with my patients utilizing them during their workouts and daily lives.
Although smartwatches can be remarkably accurate, I always caution my patients on relying on exercise equipment to monitor their heart rate. Exercise equipment (elliptical, treadmill, bike, etc.) that measures heart rate via a hard grip are less accurate and should not be solely used to measure heart rate when working out.
When considering a new exercise program, we recommend checking in with you primary care provider, or cardiologist, to ensure that you’re set up for success.
I imagine once the outbreak is over, everyone will be flocking back to the gyms. For non-traditional gyms like Orangetheory, is there a psychological benefit of competing against others in a workout?
There is limited data on specific classes such as Orangetheory and the studies tend to be very specific (ie. the benefit of exercise on maternal outcomes postpartum, older adult benefits, etc.), which lead to varying results and subsequent variable interpretations. That being said, the proposed benefits of these types of workouts include socialization with others, positive peer pressure to achieve goals (either fitness/nutrition), and the potential for higher compliance with lifestyle changes than just individually.
While there is variability regarding the magnitude of physical changes achieved in these classes (ie. body composition, muscle tone, cholesterol reduction, etc.) compared to individual regimens, participants of these classes typically reported higher sense of well-being, improved outlook on self, and stress reduction, although studies reporting this were focused on short-term involvement.
However, potential downsides include the cost of the program, the amount of time/travel to reach the destination, and risk for over-exertion by participants as they try to achieve the goals of the class. There may also be situations where individuals do not feel they fit the culture of one class location or even one type of class compared to another, which can be frustrating for individuals.
It’s important to stress that participating in any kind of exercise can lead to beneficial outcomes both in the doctor’s office and in a person’s life.
For those who might be bored with traditional workouts or who want to add more exercise to strengthen their heart, what are some recommendations?
We know that traditional workouts can get boring, but the best kind of exercise to improve heart strength involves the one you’ll actually do!
For those specifically looking to optimize their heart, I would recommend aerobic activities that involve the usage of large muscles for an extended duration of time. This could include cardio machines, spinning, running, swimming, walking or hiking.
At Pacific Medical Centers, recommend that people aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise, 5 days per week. Those looking to begin an exercise regimen after a prolonged sedentary lifestyle should look to initiate exercise at a sustainable frequency before building to this level.
Dr. Philip Massey is a cardiologist at Pacific Medical Centers (PacMed) at its Canyon Park, First Hill and Renton locations. He received degrees from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and the University of Washington. Dr. Massey received certification from the American Board of Internal Medicine with added qualifications in cardiovascular disease and nuclear cardiology. His medical interests include echocardiography, nuclear cardiology, valvular heart disease, and vascular biology.
Dr. Kyle Jordan is a family care provider at Pacific Medical Centers at its Totem Lake clinic. He has received his degree at St. George’s University School of Medicine. Dr. Jordan received certification from the American Board of Family Medicine. His medical interests include preventative care, chronic medical conditions, transgender health. While not at the clinic you can find Dr. Jordan soaking up music, rock climbing, playing soccer and swimming.
Pacific Medical Centers (PacMed) is a multi-specialty medical group with nine neighborhood clinics in the Puget Sound area. Founded in 1933, the PacMed network is one of the largest throughout the Puget Sound and offers patients more than 150 providers for primary and specialty care. PacMed’s culture focuses on its mission of delivering high-quality health care focused on the individual needs of its diverse patient population with an emphasis on improving the quality of health in the community.
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