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Staying Fit: Colour coding your heart's health

7 min read

My heart is orange.

I was inside this hip gym in Times Square Mall along Shaikh Zayed Road, with a heart rate monitor strapped on my arm. Attending a 60-minute workout, we were told by head trainer Nelita Villezon that “the goal of the class is to spend a combined minimum time of 12 minutes or more between heart rate Zones 4 Orange [84-91 per cent] and Zone 5 Red [92-100 per cent]. This is how you would maximise your results and reach the Epoc effect. It is noted the majority of your time in class should be spent in Zone 3 Green [71-83 per cent].”

What is a red or green zone? And why is my heart orange?

As you step inside Dubai’s newest Orangetheory Fitness gym, you’ll see screens everywhere with everyone’s name on it. Under each of the names will be a circle that represents your heart rate. By doing intense exercises, you have to keep your heart rate at 84-91 per cent, this should keep you on the orange zone. Orange heart, that is. So when your heart rate is at 92-100 per cent, it means you are a pro. And when you are at 71-83 per cent, it means keep going.

“Heart rate-based interval training is more effective than longer bouts of exercise. Because of the effort you have to put in, post workout your body must work harder to recover,” Villezon explained. “This is when we experience Epoc effect which Orange Theory Fitness calls the ‘afterburn’. Using a variety of exercises that can be used during heart rate-based interval training, you will burn fat, gain muscle, and increase metabolism. Cardiovascular benefits includes making your heart stronger, more efficient, lower your risk for heart disease and high blood pressure. Aside from physical results, using heart rate based training teaches you to work smarter not harder. It can show you where you are overworking or underworking that way you can maximise your results in each workout.”

Athletes and gym rats are very well acquainted with the essence of afterburn as well as its benefits. But, for regular people like me, an afterburn or the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (Epoc) is when our bodies still burn calories even after we exercise!

To reach the orange zone and maximise the afterburn or Epoc effect, we did various exercises on the treadmill, water rowers, free weights and TRX straps. Different classes have different exercises concentrated on power, strength and endurance. Villezon said.

“At Orangetheory Fitness we go through a variety of exercises that can consist of using a participants body weight, free weights, TRX straps, medicine balls, bosu trainers, ab dolley, treadmill and water rowers,” she said. “Each class is a total body workout and each day the workout changes in order to keep the body guessing. The focus of classes can either be endurance-, strength- or power-based.”

After the rigorous workout, I was imagining pizza. Trying to be smart, I asked the head trainer if there is a list of food that can lengthen afterburns.

“It is more about having an all-around healthy lifestyle and maintaining a balanced nutrition regime. You want to accompany your workout efforts by fuelling your body properly and not counter acting all of your hard work you do in your exercise routine. Everyone’s body is different in what it needs, so there is no one set list that can be given to everyone. The simple answer is to be smart about what your put into your body and if you want in-depth advice seek a certified nutritionist,” Villezon said.

You think you too can chase those afterburns with this summer heat? Of course, you can. You can do it at home but it’s way cooler if we have our friends in a gym class. And try and avoid that pizza after workout.

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