One of the biggest myths in the fitness industry is the necessity to get the heart stronger through cardio.
We’ve all been told for decades that cardiovascular fitness is required for a healthy heart. The truth is, your heart is plenty strong right now and if there is anything we need to do, it’s reduce the load on it.
Before all of my endurance readers flip out…
I’m not saying quit running, cycling, or any other cardio activity you enjoy. If that’s your passion, have at it. There are certainly benefits to doing those activities. This newsletter is strictly about it’s value to your heart, so hear me out.
The primary “get your heart stronger” crowd has always proclaimed that your heart is responsible for circulating blood throughout your entire body and the stronger it is, the better. The flaw in this logic is that it ignores a huge piece of physiology. Your heart isn’t the only thing responsible for circulation.
Your active movement is a huge piece of circulation.
Every time you flex a muscle, that muscle acts as its own pump to draw fresh blood into it and expel used blood back into the veins. In effect, as long as you use all your muscles, you have over 600 little hearts pumping all of your blood around.
The key is, you have to actually USE these muscles.
If you were to lay in bed and never move, your heart would be the only thing circulating your blood. In that case, it would make sense to have a stronger heart. But as long as we are capable of moving, we can drastically reduce the load on our heart simply by using our bodies.
There are a couple obvious advantages to reducing the load on your heart and keeping it “weak.”
The first is it keeps your heart small. I’m sure you’ve seen pictures or at least heard about enlarged hearts in severely obese people. This is a major problem and is deadly. Hearts get enlarged when they are put under extreme loads for years on end. Moving your body removes this demand and keeps your heart the appropriate size.
The other benefit to relying on your muscles instead of your heart is it keeps you moving more in general. I won’t go into another rant on why we need to move more, but now you can add circulation to the list.
Again, there’s nothing wrong with doing cardio. If it supports your activity of choice, keep it up. As long as you’re staying at a reasonable weight and still moving the rest of your muscles, it certainly won’t hurt you. But do it because you like it and not because your heart needs it. Your heart will be in its best shape when you are using your entire body every day. Move every single muscle as often as you can without looking like a weirdo at work. Although I’ve been that guy, and it’s really not that bad.
Yours in Health,