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Fitness: the gift that keeps on giving!

Toni-Ann DiSantis

Fitness: the gift that keeps on giving!

Ladies and gentlemen, start your New Year’s resolutions. Committing to an exercise routine—and sticking with it—is one of the best things you can do for your heart health, bar none. And if you’re healthy and already have a routine, now is no time to rest on your laurels (aka, rest!). Improving your fitness even more may further lower your risk of heart disease and may even extend your life. We’re talking about working on your cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), the kind you build by walking, jogging, swimming, or anything else that raises your heart rate for a sustained period of time. Also known as aerobic fitness or endurance, CRF is a measure of the body’s ability to use oxygen during exercise. That may sound simple, but your heart, lungs, blood vessels, and muscles are all involved—and the benefits are profound.   But you don’t have to be an exercise animal to experience the benefits.  If you’re just starting out, build your endurance gradually, and aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week. (Get your doctor’s approval if you’ve been sedentary or have a chronic health condition.) Already there? Boost your CRF by increasing the intensity of your workouts, or trying high-intensity interval training (HIIT), in which you alternate short bursts of intense activity with lighter activity.