Get a Good Start on a Healthy Heart

As told by Amanda Carknard, a Personal Trainer at the Southern Saratoga YMCA

Maintaining a healthy heart is one of the most important reasons to exercise.  Did you know that according to the Cleveland Clinic, your heart pumps about five quarts of blood through a system of blood vessels that’s over 60,000 miles long every minute?  That translates to about 2,000 gallons of blood every day! When we do not get enough cardiovascular exercise, combined with an unhealthy diet, it is not uncommon for individuals to develop heart disease through the years.

Needless to say, cardiovascular activity is a crucial component to everyone’s workout program. However, I always advise everyone to talk to their doctor before starting a cardiovascular routine. Here is the best way to develop a routine:

Step OneAmanda Heart Health

First we must know how much activity we need every week.  The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends 150 minutes (30 minutes, 5x a week) of moderate paced activity, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous activity. Not quite there yet? No worries! Start with a realistic goal that works for you and build on that. For example, do a brisk walk around the track for 15 minutes, two to three times a week.  Add five minutes to each day, every other week until you hit 30 minutes.  Next, when you’re ready, add another 15 minute walk into your week and use that same method.  This type of training is all about progressing at your pace until you hit the recommended guidelines.

Step Two

Now how do we know if we are working out at the right intensity? There are multiple ways to check in with yourself to determine if you are working out at the right pace. However, I am a huge advocate for heart rate training. Knowing how hard your heart is working is an excellent way to keep yourself on track to reaching your health & wellness goals! In my Bachelors of Health Science studies at Keene State College, we used an aged-based formula called the Karvonen Formula to find out our estimated maximum heart rate and the “zones” we want to be in while doing cardiovascular activity.

Step Three

Assuming that I am a beginner exerciser, I will give you an example of this formula and determine the heart rate zones that I want to be in to hit my goals. According to the ACSM, for general aerobic conditioning, calculate 50 to 65 percent of your maximum heart rate if you’re a beginner exerciser. Estimated Maximum Heart Rate: Based on 208 – (.7 x age)= 189.1bpm

Now, we take my resting heart rate into account. Mine is 63bpm. Side note: Your doctor can easily determine this for you or come see me and I will teach you to how to manually check your own heart rate!

Now we have some fun! We’ll subtract our resting heart rate from our estimated maximum heart rate. I get 126.1bpm. Next, I’ll multiply 126.1 x 0.5 = 63.05bpm, and then add back in our resting heart rate. This equals 126.05bpm. 50% intensity equals 126bpm.

I’m going to use the same calculation to determine 65% intensity by changing the 0.5 to 0.65. 65% intensity equals 145bpm. So, when I come in and use the track I am going to do the best I can to keep my heart rate between 126bpm and 145bpm.

Want to learn more? Contact me!


Amanda has been a YMCA staff member since 2011. She started working at the Troy Family YMCA, moved to Greenbush in July of 2013, and to Southern Saratoga in June of 2016. She is a certified Personal Trainer through AFAA, SPINNING® Instructor, and an ACE Group Fitness Instructor. Amanda graduated with a BS in Health Promotion & Fitness and is currently pursuing a nursing degree. She enjoys personal training all ages, levels, and abilities!

Ask Amanda for help with cardiovascular training, body sculpting, balance training, and/or core strengthening.