February 9, 2022

Bless Your Heart

Having grown up in the south, to say “bless your heart” could mean a couple of different things. The most well-known (and more appropriate) interpretation of this phrase is expressing sympathy, fondness or endearment. For example, a neighbor brings a pot of homemade soup over after hearing that you’ve been sick. “Oh, bless your heart! I know you’ve been under the weather, so I brought dinner.” Rather than sympathy, the lesser-known usage of this expression can be used as a precursor to an insult to soften the blow. Loosely interpreted, it might sound like this: “Oh, bless your heart! You’ve been sick (and your cooking isn’t very good anyway), here’s dinner.”

No matter where we live or how we use this phrase, our hearts are blessed when we engage in a healthy lifestyle. February is heart month so let’s focus on training the heart through cardiovascular exercise.

Cardiovascular exercise is moderate to vigorous activity that increases your heart rate and breathing pattern. This type of activity raises your oxygen level and blood flow throughout your body while generally using large muscle groups repetitively. Cardio exercises can improve many risk factors of heart disease such as high blood pressure and obesity. The stronger the muscles of your heart, the more efficiently it can deliver oxygenated blood to your muscles. According to the American Heart Association, everybody should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular activity per week. If you break that up over 6 days, resting on Sunday, that’s only 25 minutes per day.

FitTV blog post imageHere are 5 cardio exercises to build your H.E.A.R.T. muscles this month. Set a goal to complete these 3 times per week for a total of 12 times during the month of February. To make it more fun, turn on an upbeat song like B-SHOC’s “It’s a Great Day – its a great day – and perform each exercise on the beat of the music. You may even forget that you’re exercising!

HOPS: gently hop side-to-side or forward and backward – or mix it up by hopping one direction for 20 seconds and then switching directions. Keep your knees slightly bent and swing your bent arms close by your body.

ELBOW-to-KNEE STANDING CROSS CRAWLS: alternately bring one knee up as you rotate your upper body in that direction and move your elbow toward the knee. This crisscross pattern works your abdominal muscles while raising your heart rate.

ALTERNATE SKI’s and JUMPING JACKS: move your feet forward and back as if you are cross-country skiing for 10 seconds, then switch to jumping jacks for 10 seconds.

RUN in PLACE: you decide how high you bring your knees up on this one. You can even keep your toes down and do what we call a “toe jog.” This takes out some of the stress of jumping, while continuing to challenge your heart muscle as you work.

TAP SIDE LUNGES: alternately tap one foot out to the side as you rotate your body the other direction. Let your arm reach across the body as you tap out. If you keep your knees bent slightly and your body lower to the ground, you’ll challenge your leg muscles at the same time.

FitTV blog post imageDo each exercise for 1 minute with 20 seconds of rest in between. Work your way through the list 5 times. This will take about 25 minutes and meets your weekly goal. For more exercise encouragement, check out our personalized boards on Pinterest. You can also see us in action and join the movement at Body & Soul® FitTV™.

By Amy Stafford, Panama City Beach, FL

Amy StaffordAmy Stafford is the President of Body & Soul® Fitness, certified personal trainer, ACE faculty and ACE Group Fitness Instructor. She is a leader in the fitness industry and is a popular speaker for women's events, retreats, fitness conferences. For information on booking Amy for your event or for an interview please emailThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Amy currently resides in the Panama City Beach, FL area.