AWhile it can sometimes be easy to get stuck in a workout routine, one of the best things about exercise is the fact that there are so many different ways you can sweat. From running to hiking, rowing to weightlifting, the vast Rolodex of ways to move your body allows for enough variety to choose from to avoid boredom and find at least one type of activity you enjoy.
It’s always interesting to hear what kinds of workout routines medical professionals follow. We spoke to Lance LaMotte, MD, FACC, who is not only a leading structural and interventional cardiologist, but – as we learned when we had the opportunity to speak with him about his favorite exercise for heart health – also owns a boxing club in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
For a busy schedule, efficiency is key
Almost everyone feels like they’re busy, but Dr. LaMotte can take the cake. While balancing his work as a cardiologist and medical director of cardiac rehabilitation at Baton Rouge General Medical Center, he also owns, helps manage and trains regularly at the TITLE Boxing Club.
Efficiency is key when your schedule is busy. “I personally enjoy high-intensity interval training (HIIT) style workouts,” he shares. “These exercises pack an intense calorie burn over relatively short periods of time.” He points out that it’s a great approach for those with busy schedules – you can increase both strength and endurance in a short amount of time.
To make sure he’s able to fit into his daily exercise for heart health, he always does it first thing in the morning. “I’m an early riser and my working days can be very long, so I usually exercise before my day starts,” he says.
Keep workouts varied
Boxing is clearly Dr. LaMotte’s go-to activity, but he makes sure his actual training structure and style is always varied throughout the week in order to work his body in different ways.
“I obviously like to attend our heavy bag classes a few days a week, but also enjoy individual mitt sessions, which are great for honing skills and footwork,” he says. “I also enjoy the competitive nature of CrossFit, primarily to push my personal performance, but also to see how I compare to my peers (and even those younger than me!).”
What boxing has to offer
What does a top cardiologist see in boxing as a form of exercise? According to Dr. LaMotte, there is a common misconception that boxing is just about training the arms and upper body, when in reality it is a full body workout.
“It engages the core. The required footwork improves agility and lower body strength. It is absolutely demanding on the arms and shoulders, and builds muscle and definition,” says Dr. LaMotte. This mix of challenges means you recruit more muscle as you train and burn more calories.
Dr. LaMotte loves that boxing provides both a strength and cardio workout without having to run, ride a bike, or spend hours on a cardio machine. “Plus, there’s intense stress relief and euphoria when you hit the bag or the mitts,” he adds.
If you’ve never worn boxing gloves or thrown a single punch, don’t be intimidated. According to Dr. LaMotte, “The best thing is that no experience is necessary. Even the novice gets a great workout from day one. Those with experience continue to reap these benefits and hone their skills for an even better workout quality.
Ready to throw some punches? Try this quick boxing workout designed for beginners:
Her exercise tips for heart health
The types of workouts that will improve your health depend on your fitness level. “You have to take into account the basic state of health of the individual,” he says. “For example, a highly competitive athlete who regularly swims and bikes and adds walking to their regimen would not see as much of an impact as someone who has been sedentary for years who begins a walking program.”
As for the intensity level of cardio exercises, Dr. LaMotte recommends using target heart rate based on your estimated maximum heart rate. “We generally use a simple formula (220 minus age) to calculate maximum heart rate and encourage people to strive for a 50-70% maximum heart rate for moderate intensity exercise and a frequency maximum heart rate of 80 to 90%. [for vigorous exercise],” he explains. “These aren’t absolute, and it’s important to take inventory of how you feel at any heart rate.”
When it comes to meeting the minimum physical activity guidelines for health, the American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week (equivalent to 30 minutes of exercise five days per week), or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week, plus at least two full-body resistance workouts.
Find a workout you love
More than anything, Dr. LaMotte says the best kind of exercise for heart health is simply the one you do regularly. So what can you do if you haven’t found your “boxing”, the type of exercise you really enjoy? He suggests sampling a wide variety of workout activities and structures to see what clicks.
“Determine whether you thrive in a group environment, prefer to train with a friend or alone,” he says. “Personal trainers are also an option. There are also a large amount of digital platforms available for those who prefer to stay at home or those who travel frequently. The workout program should align with fitness goals.
Once you find a type of exercise you enjoy, make sure your approach matches your current health and fitness status and your overall wellness goals. “People with chronic conditions should have their health care provider’s clearance, especially with more intense exercise,” advises Dr. LaMotte.
Finally, he says to remember that fitness is a journey. “It often requires lifestyle adjustment, commitment and patience. Setting reasonable goals is key,” he shares. “Heart-healthy diet is also an important part: I remind my patients that they can’t “exercise” on a bad diet!”
Still, regular exercise of any type can have a huge impact on physical and emotional well-being, he says. “Heart-healthy exercise can reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, dementia, better sleep, better bone health, and a better sense of overall well-being. There is a risk lower from depression, anxiety and certain types of cancer.Exercise can also improve cognition and memory.
Surely that sounds like a bunch of fantastic reasons to try your hand at boxing, take a Zumba class, or just take a walk around your neighborhood.
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