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Hate Running? Try This Workout Instead

If you want to protect your heart, but you hate running, these cardiovascular-boosting exercises could give you a Spring fitness kick. 

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) covers a range of conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels - and it’s a big problem in the UK. 

The British Heart Foundation suggests more than a quarter of all deaths (27 per cent) are caused by heart and circulatory diseases, with CVD also affecting organs like the brain, kidneys and eyes.

But CVD can be kept at bay with a healthy lifestyle. 

And Dr Peter Angell, Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Science at Liverpool Hope University, says that if you don’t want to go jogging, picking exercises that work the whole body, or areas of large muscle mass, is key when it comes to boosting your cardiovascular (CV) fitness. 

Dr Angell, a specialist when it comes to different training methods designed to improve CV health, explains: “You don’t need me to tell you how to go for a run. But not everyone likes jogging. In fact, some people hate it. 

“Which is why I like the circuits (below) that I’ve put together, because you can get a good increase in heart rate in the comfort of your own home.”

The suggested circuits themselves are designed for beginners, novices and those with perhaps lower fitness levels who need a base from which to start. There are also three difficulty levels - rising from Option 1 to Option 3. 

Describing the precise mechanics at play, Dr Angell adds: “The key is to focus on keeping as high an intensity as possible and about trying to get through the circuit of exercises as quickly as possible in order to keep your heart rate up. 

“From a CV perspective it’s about putting load on the heart, increasing its output. And it’s also about bringing about blood pressure changes, which are really important when it comes to putting stress on the arterial walls. 

“This is what we call ‘shear stress’, and you also get a release of nitric oxide, which causes an opening of the arteries. When you exercise regularly, and you increase that ‘shear stress’ on the arterial wall, you see an increased sensitivity and an increased production of nitric oxide. 

“And this process is associated with improved vascular responses to exercise - which means better blood pressure control, a reduction in risk of cardiovascular disease, and an increased pliability of the arteries.”

One of the big issues when it comes to cardiovascular disease is a hardening of the arteries, which occurs when fat, cholesterol, and other substances build up on the arterial walls. 

Dr Angell says: “A reduction in the vasculature of the arteries means they’re stiffer, they can’t dissipate the blood pressure and you damage the epithelial walls while also seeing dangerous plaques forming. 

“But when you put stress on the arteries through exercise, they become less rigid, and they respond more efficiently to stress. If you’ve got an artery that can respond well to a stress, then you’re less likely to see huge rises in blood pressure, which we know has a long term impact on cardiovascular risk.

“Things like high intensity exercise also look to improve metabolic pathways and insulin sensitivity, so you have better blood glucose regulation. You should also see improved cholesterol profiles through these exercises, too, as your body becomes more receptive to the hormones that deal with these metabolic substrates.”

You’ll find links to popular YouTube videos showing you how to perform each of the exercises mentioned in Dr Angell’s advice - from the ‘Frogger’ to the ‘Spider-Man Push-Up’. 

Explaining why he’s chosen these ones in particular, he adds: “These exercises are great for getting the heart going - because a lot of the exercises either require you to use your whole body, or they’re using larger amounts of muscle mass.. 

“The exercises focus on things like the legs, glutes, hamstrings and quad muscles - big muscle mass areas. And the more muscle mass you can engage, the bigger impact that can have from a cardiovascular perspective, simply because more blood needs to get to those working muscles. 

“You’re also likely to burn through greater amounts of fats and carbohydrates when engaging these big muscle areas, which also has great benefits. 

“Some of the exercises, such as the plank, are ‘isometric’ - which means they involve you just holding a position for a set amount of time. As soon as you do that, you end up engaging more muscle mass because you have other elements in the muscle chain that start to kick in in order for you to maintain your posture. 

“And when you’re holding this position, you also start to see a quicker rise in blood pressure. 

“Obviously, if someone is at an increased risk because they have high blood pressure, something like the plank is one to avoid. But for the vast majority of people, it’s a safe way to get a really positive cardiovascular response.”

When it comes to cardiovascular pitfalls, Dr Angell says the biggest mistake you can make is going ‘all guns blazing’ when adopting an exercise regime. 

He reveals: “Rest and recovery is crucial, not trying to do something every day of the week. We damage our bodies during exercise. The body says, ‘We struggled with that, we need to adapt so we can cope better with this in the future’. There’s a positive response and adjustment that occurs in the recovery phase. 

“So, ensure a day off between exercise bouts, and don’t go too hard, too fast. Set sensible targets and build yourself up slowly so it’s something you can sustain. And, fundamentally, you need to make sure your exercise goals are sensible enough to become a habit.” 

 

Dr Angell’s At Home Workout Circuits

Circuit 1

Exercise

Option 1 Reps/Time

Option 2 Reps/Time

Option 3 Reps/Time

Press-Up to Side Plank

10

20

30

Mountain Climbers

30s

45s

60s

Hip Bridge Hold

30s

45s

60s

Single-leg Stiff-leg Deadlift

8/leg

10/leg

15/leg

Planks

30s

45s

60s

Rest between exercises

30s

20s

10s

Rest between sets

60s

45s

30s

Sets

4

4

4

 

Circuit 2

Exercise

Option 1 Reps/Time

Option 2 Reps/Time

Option 3 Reps/Time

Squats

10

20

30

Spiderman Push-Ups

10

20

30

Froggers

10s

20s

30s

Lateral Lunges

8/leg

10/leg

15/leg

Russian Twists

20

30

40

Rest between exercises

30s

20s

10s

Rest between sets

60s

45s

30s

Sets

4

4

4

 

Circuit 3

 

Exercise

Option 1 Reps/Time

Option 2 Reps/Time

Option 3 Reps/Time

Lunges

8/leg

10/leg

15/leg

Press Ups

10

20

30

Bird-dogs

10s

20s

30s

Duckwalks

10s

20s

30s

V-Sits

10

20

30

Rest between exercises

30s

20s

10s

Rest between sets

60s

45s

30s

Sets

4

4

4

 


Published on 12/05/2021