Learn about healthy heart rates

A woman checking her heart rate


. Learn how to lower your heart rate

. Learn about target heart rate and resting heart rate

. Your target heart rate is between 50 and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate

. A lower resting heart rate is optimal because it means your heart is highly efficient

. Are heart monitors useful?

A birds-eye view to heart health

Today we talk all things heart rate and how you can use that data to optimise your health. The two main metrics used are resting heart rate and target heart rate. The former refers to the efficiency of your heart on a day to day basis, which is an indicator of general health, while the latter relates to your target zone in terms of energy and intensity while exercising, which helps to preserve your long term health. We will look at both in more detail in a moment.

But first some background on what can affect your heart rate and how you can control your heart rate. In the basics of heart health we looked at the core tenets of exercise, nutrition and lifestyle as the main factors that are under your control. If you take take a holistic approach and treat all three aspects seriously, you’re overall heart health will certainly improve. Your age, emotional state and fitness level can all affect your heart rate.

The key points are to sleep well, reduce stress, exercise regularly, cut back on smoking and alcohol and to eat a balanced, healthy diet that includes lots of fruit and vegetables. The Australian heart foundation recommends doing some form of physical activity five days a week, either 2.5-5 hours of moderate activity or 1.25-2.5 hours of vigorous activity, or some combination of the two and Hopkins Medicine recommends a mix of aerobic exercise, resistance training, stretching, flexibility and balance to create a diverse and holistic health program to achieve full benefit.

Target heart rate

  • Listen to the signs and understand your own body
  • Consistently working within the target heart zone is optimal

But once you’ve made it a point to exercise the next thing to consider is exactly how hard you should exercise, and this is where your target heart rate comes in. You are essentially trying to find the optimal level of effort while exercising to reap the most benefit. In other words, how fast and how hard should you go.

Too relaxed and you might be leaving something in the tank, and too intense and you might be doing more harm than good. Like most things in life, it’s about finding that right balance to achieve the most reward. To calculate your maximum heart rate the most basic rule is to subtract your age from 220. Once that number is established, for most people their target heart rate is considered to be somewhere between 50 and 85 percent of their maximum heart rate.

While experts differ on whether people should obsess over this, the best approach seems to be to use it as a guide. If you’re falling under that 50 per cent threshold, it could be interpreted as a sign that maybe you can afford to work a bit harder, but within reason. If you are looking for some ideas on motivation or how best to structure your fitness program feel free to read our articles on how much you should exercise and the benefits of exercise to get your mind prepared.

The most important thing is to know your own body. You have to listen to the signs and understand what you’re capable of. Things of this nature are a guide to help you in the right direction. The more informed you are and the more knowledge you have the better off you will be. The point is that by consistently working in your target heart zone you are giving yourself the best possible chance of securing your long term health through correct exercise habits.

Resting heart rate

Your resting heart rate is one of the benchmarks that medical experts will use to determine your overall health. What this is really judging is efficiency and functionality by assessing how hard your heart has to work on a day to day basis.

With that in mind, a lower resting heart rate is optimal because it means your heart is so efficient that it doesn’t need to work as hard to do its job properly. Everything is in good order. For adults, between 60 and 80 beats per minute is considered optimal and anything above 90 is usually considered a little high. Verywellfit gives a good overview of the resting heart rate, how it aligns with your fitness goals, and what it means for your day to day life.

A high resting heart rate is considered dangerous because it’s interpreted as a predictor of cardiovascular disease down the road. It’s important to address the issue early and rectify it while you’re healthy enough to do so. As we said earlier, the way to do that is through diet, exercise and lifestyle.

This study looked at the correlation between resting heart rate and the overall fitness of Brazilian adolescents. It first defines the meaning behind the numbers:

‘Heart rate reflects the number of contractions of the ventricles per unit time and fluctuates substantially with variations in systemic demand for oxygen.’ What this basically means is that the heart has to work harder when it’s not getting the appropriate supply of oxygen. The findings indicate that aerobic exercise is beneficial to your overall health. They also underline why it’s important to get into good exercise habits at a young age and maintain them right throughout your life.

Above 90 beats per minute

  • Above 90 beats per minute is entering dangerous territory
  • Activate health and lifestyle choices to lower your heart rate

But what if you are starting to enter that danger zone above 90 beats per minute. This study interprets the data as such:

‘Results from this meta-analysis suggest the risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality increased by 9% and 8% for every 10 beats/min increment of resting heart rate….but a significantly increased risk of cardiovascular mortality was observed at 90 beats/min.’

So again, when you approach that 90 beats per minute threshold you’re entering dangerous territory and it’s important to activate lifestyle choices for your own health and wellbeing. For your own benefit, you should make some serious life decisions while you’re still healthy and active enough to do so.

It’s important for people of all ages to monitor their heart rate and take the data seriously. But the good news is that through diet and exercise you can rectify any underlying issues and preserve your long term health provided that you fully commit to the correct course of action. If you are looking for a diet plan, here are some ideas for healthy eating for the heart.

Bradycardia: Slow Heart Rate (Below 60 beats per minute)

The flipside to a fast heart rate is obviously one that’s too slow, commonly referred to as bradycardia, and defined as a heart that beats at fewer than 60 beats per minute. For some people this can be interpreted as a health issue that needs to be monitored. Mayoclinic gives a good overview of the condition and point out that it should be noted that there are exceptions to the rule and that elite athletes and healthy young adults who fall under this bracket aren’t considered a health risk.

But for some people it is an issue. describes some of the symptoms of bradycardia as being fatigue, dizziness, confusion and shortness of breath and some of the potential complications as being heart failure and fainting. In regards to problem and remedy they state that the main issue is that ‘a heart rate that’s too slow can cause insufficient blood flow to the brain’ but that ‘in many cases, a pacemaker can regulate the heart’s rhythm, speeding up the heart rate as needed.’

If you feel that you are at risk keep a close eye on things and always call a doctor if you start to experience any symptoms. Mayoclinic lists age, smoking, recreational drug use, heavy alcohol use and high blood pressure as some of the risk factors.

Should you use a heart monitor?

  • Heart monitors are useful for the serious fitness trainer
  • More information is valuable for very focused goals

Whether you feel you need a heart rate monitor or not I suspect will come down to how serious and driven you are about your training, how much of a details person you are and how goals orientated you are. If you tick all of those boxes the chances are that a heart rate monitor may be a viable investment and something that could be quite useful for your personality type.

If you are a bit more laid back the traditional method of taking your pulse before and after each training session may suffice. In other words, it depends on what you’re trying to achieve with your training and how hard you want to push yourself. The more focused your goals are, the more information you’re going to need and probably want.

The basic concept is that you attach a strap to your chest and electrode sensors pick up your heart rate and then transmit that data to an external source like a watch or phone app, from which you can then dissect and analyse all of that information in the form of graphs, variance and fluctuation and things of that nature. There are other models available worn as a wristwatch or armband and wareable gives a good overview of all the different options available.


Heart Foundation: Physical activity and your heart health

Hopkins Medicine: 3 Kinds of Exercise That Boost Heart Health

Verywellfit: Resting Heart Rate and Fitness

NCBI: Association between Resting Heart Rate and Health-Related Physical Fitness in Brazilian Adolescents

NCBI: Resting heart rate and all-cause and cardiovascular mortality in the general population: a meta-analysis

Mayoclinic: Bradycardia Bradycardia: Slow Heart Rate–slow-heart-rate

Wareable: Best heart rate monitor: chest straps and HR watches compared

Exercise Resources

Different forms of resistance training

Different forms of resistance training.


. Isotonic, Isometric and Isokinetic are all different forms of resistance training

. Important to incorporate a program that is diversified and not one-dimensional

. Elastic resistance is a useful alternative to conventional resistance

Why is it important?

Resistance training is designed to make your muscles, tendons and joints stronger and more flexible. It can act as some combination of injury management and injury prevention as well as helping with your general health and overall quality of life by developing flexibility, stamina, strength, self-confidence, endurance and weight loss. If you are looking to understand the benefits of a comprehensive resistance training program this is a good overview, but in this article we will be specifically looking at the different forms of resistance training available to you.

What are the different variations?

Isotonic, Isometric and Isokinetic exercises are considered some of the different classifications of resistance training. Isotonic refers to exercise where you apply weight and then ask the muscle to complete a full range of motion. Most exercises at the gym fall under this category as do sit-ups and push-ups and everyday activities like walking and swimming. It covers quite a broad range of activities. The benefits include the improvement of muscle strength, endurance and bone density. These are great exercises to improve your overall quality of life and functionality.

Isometric exercises are generally lower impact and more body friendly. They are designed to be not quite as strenuous and perhaps a great option for those suffering from injury, illness or overuse. The biggest difference is perhaps the range of motion you put your body through with your own body weight used as resistance from a stationary and stable base. The benefits are that of convenience (they can be done from anywhere) and time (they can be done quickly). Examples include planks, bridges and yoga. These sort of exercises are great to improve flexibility, balance and core strength.

And finally, isokinetic exercises are speed controlled exercises where the muscle contracts and shortens under a controlled environment at constant pace. However, it has to be said that while these type of exercises can diversify your program they aren’t quite as important if you’re just starting out. Initially, it’s perhaps best to lock down the basics first as these are slightly more advanced exercises or more tailored towards specific clients in regards to injury rehabilitation or elite athletes looking to boost a specific muscle group by developing power at speed. It also often requires specialised equipment to carry out the function. As a general rule, it’s fine to work exclusively with isotonic and isometric exercises.

Structuring your program

In terms of how you formulate and structure your program there are different options available but what often emerges is that the best way to achieve optimal benefit is to diversify your program to cover as many bases as possible. As this study suggests it’s important to consider all the variables when compiling your program: ‘Variables that should be considered include motor performance increases, amount of strength gains and range of motion of the strength gains.’

The next point to consider is what specific exercises to put into your program. This study states: ‘One of the many variables that coaches and researchers face when designing RT programs is exercise selection. They can be classified as multi-joint (MJ) or single-joint (SJ) exercises. Most popular recommendations postulate that RT sessions should involve 8 to 10 exercises performed in multiple sets with both single (SJ) and multi joint (MJ) exercises.’

Both are certainly beneficial but because they are a little more challenging multi-joint exercises are great for a more holistic workout and will perhaps result in the most benefit. Give your body time to recover, let your muscles rest and recuperate and make it a point to apply the correct technique when doing any exercise. Start with a smaller weight if necessary but make sure you apply the correct body motion as you work through your program to prevent injury and accidents.

Load building

The next concept is load building. Load management is an important concept to consider when deciding if you want to place the emphasis on increasing strength or building endurance. A large load with low repetitions will build strength while a smaller load with more repetitions will develop endurance. In terms of your overall goals, a high intensity workout is the fastest way to burn fat, build strength and lose weight, while a steadier program is great for injury prevention, injury maintenance and building long term stamina.

This study looked at the difference in impact between moderate load resistance and low load resistance. The program ran for six weeks, eight exercises, four times a week. The study concluded that both variables help to achieve muscle strength and achieve body composition: ‘RT performed with moderate-to-heavy loads is recommended to recruit fast-twitch muscle fibres…RT with a low  number of repetitions and intermediate RM is considered an appropriate stimulus to increase strength and skeletal muscle mass. Alternatively, RT performed with a higher number of RM is well recognized to increase muscular endurance.’

Elastic resistance and Medicine balls

And the final point we will look at is the use of Medicine balls and the difference between elastic resistance and conventional resistance. One of the benefits of using elastic bands is versatility and portability. You can take them wherever you go and it’s a great cost-effective option that provides a holistic and total body workout. The drawback is that you might not get as strenuous of a workout as you would with free weights and conventional resistance but it’s certainly a piece of equipment that is worth the investment because of the convenience and options they provide.

This study suggests that elastic resistance is a very valuable tool and doesn’t lose anything in comparison to conventional resistance: ‘Evidence from this study suggests that resistance training with elastic devices provides similar strength gains when compared to resistance training performed from conventional devices. These findings allow coaches, physiotherapists, and even patients to opt to use devices with low costs, ease of handling, and which can be used in different places, such as elastic devices, for maintenance and gain in muscular strength.’

Medicine balls are a great vehicle to achieve total body fitness which is a large part of what resistance training is all about. All of the things that you want to achieve like strength, endurance and power are possible through the use of Medicine balls along with flexibility, balance and weight loss. When used properly, this is one of the most simple, convenient and most functional pieces of equipment that can be incorporated into your weekly exercise program. The reason why it is so effective is because it is a high impact workout that covers a broad range of movement that touches every aspect of your body. Healthline gives a rundown of some excellent exercises you can incorporate to achieve your full body workout.


NCBI: Types of strength training

NCBI: Resistance Training with Single vs. Multi-joint Exercises at Equal Total Load Volume: Effects on Body Composition, Cardiorespiratory Fitness, and Muscle Strength

NCBI: The Effect of Different Resistance Training Load Schemes on Strength and Body Composition in Trained Men

NCBI: Effects of training with elastic resistance versus conventional resistance on muscular strength: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Healthline: 10 Medicine Ball Moves to Tone Every Muscle in Your Body


Why resistance training is good for you

Man exercising through resistance training


. Resistance training improves balance, bone density and mental awareness

. Strengthens vulnerable parts of your body and makes them flexible and malleable

. Targeted training helps to strengthen muscles, tendons and joints

The basic principle of resistance training

A workout regime that places a strong emphasis on resistance training is a great option for people at different stages of their fitness journey. It hits a lot of the key target areas in terms of what you want out of an exercise plan. It shouldn’t be your only focus because you should also incorporate some form of cardiovascular component but resistance training can certainly be one of the building blocks.

As the name suggests, the basic principle is a strength program where you work against an obvious force and challenge the muscles to become stronger and more developed. The benefits are a combination of strength, stamina and injury prevention. You can strengthen the vulnerable parts of your body such as your muscles, tendons and joints by making them more flexible and malleable. By doing this they are more likely to withstand the rigors of day to day life.

As a general rule, resistance training can be achieved through some combination of your own body weight, resistance bands, medicine balls or free weights such as dumbbells and barbells. There’s enough variety there to put together a workout plan that is stimulating and rewarding at the same time without being too predictable, and that’s the balance you’re trying to achieve. The goal is to harness and manipulate these different apparatus in such a way so that your body is challenged and forced to respond positively and decisively through the basic principles of force and resistance.

What do you want to achieve?

The next step is to determine exactly what you’re trying to achieve:

What’s the goal?  What’s the endgame?

For seniors, the benefits are both physical and neurological. There is evidence that resistance training helps to improve balance, bone density and mental awareness, so a carefully structured program can certainly be of great benefit to elderly people who are possibly coming to terms with the changing nature of their bodies.

This study states that ‘A program of once or twice weekly resistance exercise achieves muscle strength gains similar to 3 days per week training in older adults and is associated with improved neuromuscular performance. Such improvement could potentially reduce the risk of falls and fracture in older adults.’

For younger people resistance training can still be a cornerstone component of your training program because of the high-impact nature of the exercises which make it a great way to burn calories and manage your weight, which is obviously one of the things that most people are trying to do with their fitness regime.

Young adults are also creating good habits they will carry on later in life. These include benefits to the heart such as reducing cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. They can also delay the effects of arthritis by cultivating a body that is stronger and more resilient.

Older bodies deteriorate

Older bodies naturally start to deteriorate so it’s important to put in place measures that prepare us for that transformation. Resistance training is a great way of doing that. This study states that ‘Inactive adults experience a 3% to 8% loss of muscle mass per decade. Ten weeks of resistance training may increase lean weight by 1.4 kg, increase resting metabolic rate by 7%, and reduce fat weight by 1.8 kg.’

They also say ‘Resistance training may promote bone development’ and ‘enhance cardiovascular health by reducing resting blood pressure’. These are the benefits to adopting a structured resistance training program. If you want more information you can also learn the best way to safely progress through a program as you gain more experience.


NCBI: Once weekly resistance exercise improves muscle strength and neuromuscular performance in older adults,and%20fracture%20in%20older%20adults.

NCBI: Resistance training is medicine: effects of strength training on health

Exercise Seniors

The importance of muscle strength for seniors

Muscle strength for seniors.


. Muscle strength for seniors is important because a natural decline occurs as we age

. We need to replenish what we are losing

. Those who engage often report feeling happier and more outgoing

Why is it important?

As we get older our muscles, joints and tendons naturally lose strength, flexibility and function. It’s an unfortunate fact of life. To counteract that it’s important for seniors to do their own muscle strength training to replenish what they are losing. We can’t go back in time but we can certainly slow the decline. If you commit a certain amount of time each week to strengthening your muscles, tendons and joints you will continue to be physically productive.

This study outlines how the ageing process can be attributed to ‘a number of physiologic and functional declines that can contribute to increased disability, frailty, and falls’ through a reduction of muscle strength. It suggests that strength training is an excellent way of combating the natural deterioration of the body. ‘Done regularly (e.g., 2 to 3 days per week), these exercises build muscle strength and muscle mass and preserve bone density.’

And this study also talks about the intensity and effect of strength training in seniors. It states that ‘the elderly need strength training more and more as they grow older to stay mobile for their everyday activities. The goal of training is to reduce the loss of muscle mass and the resulting loss of motor function.’


Osteoporosis is a common ailment that arises as we get older and there is evidence to suggest that strength training helps to neutralise the effects of this condition. This is because one of the goals is to improve bone strength by challenging the body to respond and get stronger. As this study states ‘Of the several exercise training programs, resistance exercise (RE) is known to be highly beneficial for the preservation of bone and muscle mass.’

It goes on to say that ‘Exercise training, especially RE, is important for the maintenance of musculoskeletal health in an aging society’ and that ‘Based on the available information, RE, either alone or in combination with other interventions, may be the most optimal strategy to improve the muscle and bone mass in postmenopausal women, middle-aged men, or even the older population.’

Psychological benefits of building muscle strength

While the majority of health benefits are physical there is also evidence emerging that there are definite psychological benefits that are a direct by-product. Seniors who engage in this type of strength and resistance work often report feeling happier, more confident and outgoing. A chemical reaction is unlocked as well as being a natural boost to your self-esteem when you successfully challenge yourself.

This study suggests that ‘Resistance training improved exercise-related motivational and volitional characteristics in older adults. These improvements were linked to continuing resistance training 1 year after the supervised intervention.’ Greater motivation and positive reinforcement are certainly some of the psychological benefits that can come with strength and resistance training.

Resistance bands and core muscles

If you are a little reluctant to start working with heavy weights another option at your disposal is to start using elastic bands which are a great alternative. Resistance bands are convenient, efficient and portable which means you can take them wherever you go or do your workout from the comfort of your own home. There is also less chance of injury because you are not working with heavy weights but rather pushing against your own bodyweight. There is plenty of upside to working with resistance bands and this study states that ‘resistance exercise using elastic bands is effective for improving the flexibility and balance of the elderly people living in the community’.

Because of the full body workout you often get, resistance bands are also a great way to work the core muscles which are pivotal to any muscle strength program regardless of age. The core muscles refer to the trunk, hips, pelvis, abdomen and lower back. This is an important area to develop because it essentially holds the rest of the body together and plays an important role in day to day life and everyday functioning. If you can build this area up it helps with balance, posture and stability and at some level helps to prevent minor overuse injuries from occurring because of the strong foundation you have created. Healthine gives an overview of some good core exercises for seniors.

Structuring your program

So that’s an overview of why it’s important to build muscle strength as we age. The final point we will touch on is how best to structure your program. The first thing to consider is frequency. Two to three times per week with eight to ten repetitions for each exercise is a good starting point. You can ease yourself into your work and it’s not too time consuming. As a result, your body will naturally adapt.

Once you are confident you can either add repetitions or frequency but still be mindful of not overloading your body. You want to try and achieve a balanced fitness program and one that is sustainable over the long run. Muscles also need time to grow and relax in between so it’s important to put some distance between your workouts. Stay dehydrated, keep a safe work area and develop your strength training slowly and steadily.


NCBI: The benefits of strength training for older adults,independence%2C%20and%20vitality%20with%20age.

NCBI: Effects of Resistance Exercise on Bone Health

NCBI: The Intensity and Effects of Strength Training in the Elderly

The Intensity and Effects of Strength Training in the Elderly (

NCBI: Motivational characteristics and resistance training in older adults: A randomized controlled trial and 1-year follow-up

Healthline: Core stabilizing ab exercises to help prevent injury in seniors

Abdominal Exercises for Seniors: For Stability (

NCBI: Effectiveness of resistance exercise using elastic bands on flexibility and balance among the elderly people living in the community: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Effectiveness of resistance exercise using elastic bands on flexibility and balance among the elderly people living in the community: a systematic review and meta-analysis (

Exercise Nutrition Seniors

What are the basics of heart health?

Diet, exercise and lifestyle keep your heart healthy


. The basics of heart health come back to exercise, nutrition and lifestyle

. Quit smoking, avoid stress, minimise alcohol and stay active

. Develop a diet that sources items from the five key food groups

This is an overview of the basics of heart health. The core tenets are exercise, nutrition and lifestyle. I’m sure many of you have heard the basics before but it’s good to remind ourselves from time to time. For a change, we’ll start with lifestyle. It’s paramount to remove stress from your life. While often easier said than done, everything else will flow from the basic philosophy. Control the controllables, enjoy the simplicities and make it a point to spend time with your friends and family. You will be amazed at how much better you feel once you cut out negativity from your life.

Read a book, go for a walk, spend time outdoors and genuinely try and make time each week to unwind. It’s impossible to stay ‘up’ all the time and you need that break mentally which helps you physically. Try and learn new skills and gain new hobbies to keep your mind active and body productive. All of these little things add up in the long run when trying to achieve a healthy balanced lifestyle of mind, body and spirit. An active mind and a stress free life is a great start when looking to preserve your long term health.

Smoking and alcohol

The other major steps you can take are to quit smoking, reduce alcohol and stay active. If you can do some sort of physical activity two to three times a week, cut out smoking completely and take alcohol in moderation you will go a long way to reducing the risk of heart disease. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) smoking is the most ‘preventable cause of ill health and death in Australia’ but the good news is that the message is getting through. Eleven per cent of people aged 14 and over smoked regularly in 2019 which is down from 24 per cent in 1991.

That’s a positive trend line and one that is certainly good for the long term health of the nation. But alcohol is obviously the other lifestyle choice that needs to be kept in moderation to prevent not just anti-social behaviour but also to prevent any long-term health issues from arising. According to the AIHW one in four people consumes alcohol at a level that places them in harm on a single occasion and one in six people takes alcohol at levels that places their long term health in jeopardy and these are obviously slightly concerning statistics. But the key is moderation and common sense, and if you apply these two principles diligently you should be fine.

Diet is the key to a healthy heart

The next point we will look at is nutrition. The key point with nutrition is balance. You have to develop a balanced diet that gives you sufficient nutrients and energy from all the key food groups. As a general rule, a balanced diet is considered to be one that takes the key elements of the five food groups of fruit, vegetables, grain, dairy and protein sourced through lean meats, poultry, fish and eggs.

If you make it a point to incorporate those five food groups into your diet on a regular basis you will be well on your way to achieving a balanced diet which will go a long way to preserving your long term health. But there is certainly some work to do. According to the AIHW, only one in ten adults in Australia met the recommendations for daily vegetable consumption in 2017-18 and there was also an unhealthy intake of discretionary and counterproductive foods such as salt, fat and sugar. The heart foundation recommends eating ‘at least five serves of vegetables and two serves of fruit every day.’ The fruits that are most highly recommended are berries, tomatoes and avocados and the vegetables that are highly regarded include beans and green vegetables.

And the final point that often gets asked about in regards to diet is whether olive oil should be used. The heart foundation states: Olive oil is a healthy and versatile oil that you can use with a variety of cooking methods. Olive oil is a great option for medium-temperature frying (i.e. stir frying or warming food in a pan).  Oils that are suitable for high-temperature frying (e.g. deep frying) include extra virgin olive oil, high oleic canola oil and high oleic peanut oil, as they are more stable at high temperatures. 

And finally we will look at exercise. This study concluded that a lack of physical activity can be responsible for over 35 chronic diseases and conditions. These include coronary artery disease, Alzheimer’s disease and other high cardiovascular risk factors. The evidence presented suggests that a lack of physical activity increases the decline in skeletal muscle strength and cognition which can lead to ‘both shorter health span and early mortality.’

This is particularly relevant to older Australians. According to the AIHW, 75 per cent of people over the age of 65 were not sufficiently active in 2014/15. Another study suggested that the evidence is there that regular physical activity is safe for older people and that a lot of the high risks ailments such as cardiovascular diseases and cognitive impairments decrease through regular exercise.

While the percentages are certainly better, younger people also need to be mindful to exercise adequately. A national health survey in 2014/15 indicated that almost one in three 18-64 year olds were not sufficiently active per the recommended 150 minutes per week while just under 15 per cent were completely inactive and did no exercise at all over the course of a week.

This is obviously a recipe for problems down the road and it’s important to get into a rhythm early on and maintain that as you get older to avoid any long term health problems that are bound to arise if you maintain an inactive and sedentary lifestyle. According to the ABS, if ‘Australians did an extra 15 minutes of brisk walking for at least five days each week this would reduce disease burden due to physical inactivity in the population by approximately 13%.’ If this was increased to 30 minutes the burden of disease could be reduced by up to 26%, so the incentive is certainly there to get fit and get healthy.

What type of exercise?

If you fall in that 18-64 age bracket the Australian Heart Foundation recommends doing some form of physical activity five days a week (2.5-5 hours of moderate activity or 1.25-2.5 hours of vigorous activity), which leaves you with quite a bit of flexibility as to how you plan on structuring your fitness diary. The physical activities recommend include walking, swimming, yoga, skipping, cycling and martial arts.

Hopkins Medicine states that you should try and achieve a mix of aerobic exercise, resistance training, stretching, flexibility and balance to create a diverse program that provides holistic health benefit that includes improving blood circulation, weight loss and body preparation which will enable you to fully commit to a thorough fitness schedule. This will in turn help you to lower your heart rate and blood pressure and hopefully put you on the path to being fit and healthy.

Sleep and blood pressure

The final points we will address today relate to sleep and blood pressure. There is a correlation between a good night’s sleep and a healthy heart. Hopkins Medicine states: ‘Without enough sleep, your risk for heart disease and heart attack goes up—no matter what your age, your weight, or how much you exercise or smoke.’ The Heart Foundation adds that sleep deprivation is ‘associated with high blood pressure, a known risk factor associated with heart disease.’

The experts recommend at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night for multiple reasons. It’s a great stress reliever, it’s a lifestyle choice and an acknowledgement that you need rest and recuperation. It affects your mood, your social interactions and poor sleep habits have been previously linked with depression. And finally, it affects your functionality. Without proper sleep you’re not as sharp or mentally alert, so not just for your heart but your overall wellbeing you’re doing yourself a great disservice if you don’t get adequate rest.

The Heart Foundation states that while there is no one cause for high blood pressure, several factors can contribute including: 

  • Family history 
  • Eating patterns (including salty foods) 
  • Alcohol intake 
  • Smoking 
  • Weight 
  • Physical activity and exercise levels. 

It goes on to say that it can be elevated by ‘stress, your emotional state, recent physical activity, caffeine consumption or even talking.’ 

The great news is that you can lower your blood pressure by actioning all of the items we have talked about – Diet, exercise and lifestyle. That’s one of the reasons why we left this until last because if you do all of the above as well as get checked regularly your long-term forecast will naturally improve and hopefully your blood pressure will return to more normal levels if there is any reason for concern.


AIHW Smoking stats: Smoking Overview

AIWH Alcohol stats: Alcohol Overview

AIHW Fruit and Veg stats: Food and Nutrition Overview

Heart Foundation: Fruit, vegetables and heart health

Heart Foundation: 9 food and heart health myths, busted

NCBI: Role of Inactivity in Chronic Diseases: Evolutionary Insight and Pathophysiological Mechanisms

NCBI: Physical activity in older age: perspectives for healthy ageing and frailty

ABS health stats: Research and Statistics

AIHW fitness stats: Australia’s Health 2018

Hopkins Medicine: Do Your Heart a Favor – Get More Sleep

Heart Foundation: How does sleep affect your heart?

Heart Foundation: Blood pressure and your heart

Heart Foundation: Physical activity and your heart health

Physical Activity and Exercise | Heart Foundation

Hopkins Medicine: 3 Kinds of Exercise That Boost Heart Health

3 Kinds of Exercise That Boost Heart Health | Johns Hopkins Medicine



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