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Jill Derryberry

Jill Derryberry
I'm a Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Group Fitness Instructor with specialty certifications in HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), Pilates and CORE DE FORCE. I have always had an interest in nutrition and exercise. However after gaining some weight, I learned much more about that interest, exercised more consistently and made changes to my eating habits. After losing 25 pounds, I decided to get certified as a trainer and group exercise instructor because I wanted to share my new enhanced knowledge with others to help them become healthier and feel better like I did after losing that weight and continue to feel today! I am passionate about sharing my love of fitness to help others live a healthier lifestyle.
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Recent Posts

Do You Have to Warm Up and Cool Down When You Exercise?

Posted by Jill Derryberry on Jun 18, 2024 4:45:12 PM


I know it is tough to find time to exercise, let alone another 5 minutes to warm up before and 10 minutes to stretch or foam roll after you work out.  But you can get more from your workout and be less likely to have an injury if you do any type of dynamic warm up before and muscle lengthening with static stretches after exercise. 


Warm Up 

A good warm up will gradually increase your heart rate and increase circulation to your muscles, tendons and ligaments. This helps prevent injury. Don't confuse a warm up with stretching. The warm up prepares your body for what is to come. It should be dynamic, that is, not holding a movement like you would when you perform a static stretch. Static stretching focuses on specifically lengthening your muscles which is more beneficial if done after a workout.     


Types of Stretches 

Static Stretches:  to extend a muscle group to its maximal point and holding it for 10-60 seconds.  Static stretches can be either active or passive.  In an active stretch added force is applied by the individual for greater intensity.  Added force is added by an external force in a passive stretch. 


Dynamic Stretching:  unlike static stretching, dynamic stretches are continuous movements that usually mimic the exercise or sport to be performed.  These types of stretches are usually done as a warmup. 


Ballistic Stretching:  this type of stretching isn’t frequently recommended.  It utilizes repeated bouncing movement to stretch the targeted muscle group.  The bouncing movements can trigger a stretch reflex and may cause a risk for injury, so they are not usually recommended without supervision from a Trainer.   
A warm up can consist of walking in place, low intensity versions of some of the activities you are going to be performing, and dynamic stretches (i.e. Arm circles). Doing this for 5 - 10 minutes before your workout can help prevent injury by warming up your muscles and making your tendons and ligaments more flexible helping to prevent tears. 


 Cool Down 

 After your workout, it is important to gradually bring down your heart rate back to its resting rate and to stretch your muscles.  Our everyday lives can lend to shortened muscles, especially after sitting for long periods of time.  Shortened muscles, in turn, decrease range of motion and can trigger body aches and pains.  Working out can leave our muscles shortened and feeling tight as well.  Lengthening the muscles through static stretching after your workout can help your muscles recover from your workout and potentially leave you with less soreness.  Stretching helps keep muscles long, healthy and strong.   


Research has shown that stretching can help improve both your body’s flexibility and mobility.  Mobility is the range of motion of your joints.  Flexibility is the ability of your muscles, tendons and ligaments to lengthen.  For example, flexibility is being able to reach down and touch your toes.  Your hamstring muscles must lengthen, or be flexible, to be able to reach your toes.  An example of mobility is your ankle flexing so that you can lower into a squat.  If your ankle won’t bend as much, you can’t go as low into a squat.  Going back to the toe reach example, someone could have good hamstring flexibility but limited mobility at the hip joint keeping them from reaching their toes (or vice versa).  Mobility and flexibility do sometimes go hand in hand, and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but they aren’t the same thing.  What matter most is that you do need both to perform at your best.    


Better flexibility and mobility can help to improve your performance in physical activities, reduce potential aches and pains, decrease your risk of injuries, and enable your muscles to work most effectively.   


Stretching will help you stay active as you age.  Improving mobility and maintaining flexibility (which naturally declines as we age) allows our body to stay in top shape.  Maintaining flexibility while aging can decrease the risk of injury, improve balance, decrease chronic pain, improve workouts, improves posture and keeps you looking younger!  The more we care for our bodies, the longer we can continue to be active and live independently.   


Stretch regularly.  You will get the most benefits if you stretch at least 2 – 3 times a week consistently and after you exercise. 


Remember to breathe!  Inhale right before you start the stretch and exhale as you relax your muscles and lean into the stretch.  For static stretches, stay in the stretch for at least 30 seconds while breathing in and out normally.   


Foam Rolling 


Foam rolling is a self-myofascial release (SMR) technique that focuses on loosening and breaking up tension in the fascia as well as releasing muscle tightness.  It is similar to what happens to your fascia and muscle tissue when you receive a massage.  The foam roller will never completely replace a massage therapist’s hands, but it serves as a great alternative and can be done anytime.  It can be added before a warm up or before stretching at the end of your workout. 


Most people who foam roll use cylinders made of compressed foam varying in size from 1 to 3 feet long. These foam rollers are often 6 inches in diameter and come in different firmness levels.  Foam Rollers can be purchased just about anywhere and are provided at each LivRite location. 


Three Benefits to Foam Rolling 


1. Increased Blood Flow      

As part of a warm up, foam rolling should be done first thing to get the blood flowing to your muscles (which helps reduce the possibility of injury).  This should be done before you do some dynamic stretching before you exercise.  After your workout, foam rolling helps flush out the blood that has pooled in the working muscles and allows fresh nutrients and oxygen to come in and begin the healing process (which helps to reduce soreness). 


2. Increased Flexibility and Range of Motion 

Studies have found that when combined with static stretching, foam rolling can lead to impressive flexibility improvements.  Increased flexibility helps to limit soreness and prevent injuries.   


3.  Relieve Pain  

  Foam rolling can work out muscle tightness, soreness or any knots you may feel in your muscles.  While rolling these spots you may experience some discomfort.  It should not be unbearable though, and when you are done it should feel better.  Releasing these muscle knots and tightness helps to return your muscles elasticity and reestablish proper movement patterns along with making movement pain free.   


All three of these benefits help prevent injury and decrease recovery time after a workout.  Pair foam rolling with static stretching (in that order) after your activity for best results.   


Are you ready to roll?  Here are four foam rolling moves to get you started: 


Upper Back Roll 

Lie down with your back on the floor. Place a foam roller underneath your upper back and cross your arms in front of you or behind your head, protracting your shoulder blades. Raise your hips off the ground, placing your weight onto the roller. Shift your weight to one side, rolling the upper to mid back. Alternate sides.  

Hamstrings Roll 

Sit and extend your legs over a foam roller so that it is on the back of your upper legs.  Place your hands behind you and lift your hips off the floor.  Roll from below the hip to above the back of the knee.   

Quadriceps Roll 

Lie face-down on the floor with your weight supported by your hands or forearms. Place a foam roller underneath your thighs.  Roll from above the knee to below the hip.  

Preparing your body for exercise by completing a dynamic warm up prior to starting a workout and stretching your muscles after you exercise will help you reduce the risk of injury, get the most from your workout, and reduce aches and pains among other benefits.  It’s worth the time and should be part of your exercise routine.   

When dealing with injuries or joints and muscles that are particularly painful, consult your physician prior to implementing a new workout, stretch or foam roll. 



Zmijewski P, Lipinska P, Czajkowska A, Mróz A, Kapuściński P, Mazurek K. Acute effects of a static vs. a dynamic stretching warm-up on repeated-sprint performance in female handball players. J Hum Kinet. 2020;72:161-172. Published 2020 Mar 31. doi:10.2478/hukin-2019-0043 


Hendricks S, Hill H, Hollander S den, Lombard W, Parker R. Effects of foam rolling on performance and recovery: A systematic review of the literature to guide practitioners on the use of foam rolling. J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2020;24(2):151-174. doi:10.1016/j.jbmt.2019.10.019 


Pearcey GEP, Bradbury-Squires DJ, Kawamoto JE, Drinkwater EJ, Behm DG, Button DC. Foam rolling for delayed-onset muscle soreness and recovery of dynamic performance measures. J Athl Train. 2015;50(1):5-13. doi:10.4085/1062-6050-50.1.01 


Wiewelhove T, Döweling A, Schneider C, et al. A meta-analysis of the effects of foam rolling on performance and recovery. Front Physiol. 2019;10:376. DOI:10.3389/fphys.2019.00376 


South Dakota State University Extension.Benefits of stretching. 


Topics: LivRite News

How to strengthen your lower body : Squats and other tips

Posted by Jill Derryberry on May 31, 2024 8:30:00 AM


A strong lower body is important to help protect and improve our knees and hips, keep us moving with less pain and to be able to do activities of daily living independently for as long as possible.  Squats may be the most beneficial lower body exercise and are a key to living and aging well.   Think about how many times you bend your knees and lower your body during the day; picking up something from the floor, lowering yourself down to a toddler’s level to speak or play with a child, sitting down and then standing back up.  Those are all essentially squats and performing squats in your exercise routine, will help you to keep doing these types of activities in your day-to-day life.  According to a 2014 scientific overview, squats are “one of the most primal and critical fundamental movements necessary to improve sport performance, to reduce injury risk and to support lifelong physical activity.” 


There are many different variations of the squat exercise.  Some change the muscle that is working the hardest and some are better for beginners or better for individuals with limited mobility in one or more joints.   


If you are new or returning to exercise after a long time away or injury, a box squat or sit to stand may be the best way to squat starting out.   


To do a box squat (or sit to stand):   


  1. Use a chair or box high enough that when you sit, your thighs are parallel with the ground.  Keep your chest lifted and core engaged. 
  2. Stand in front of the chair. 
  3. Keep your heels down, bend your knees and slowly lower yourself until your backside gently taps the box or chair.  Try not to sit completely.  Rise from the box and stand.  Repeat for 8-10 reps.   


A wall sit is an isometric squat which means you will be holding your body in a position for a length of time rather than moving through a range of motion for each rep.  A wall sit will improve the muscular endurance of your lower body. 


To do a wall sit: 


  1. Start in a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart and back flat against a wall.  
  2. Lower into a seated position by bending your knees at a 90-degree angle. Your knees should be directly over your ankles.  Keep your lower back firmly against the wall and hold the position for a set length of time.  

If a wall sit proves to be too strenuous, you can alleviate the tension on your low back by following the same steps, but also placing an exercise ball or stability ball between your lower back and the wall. If you're looking to make it more challenging, consider practicing a single-leg wall sit or a weighted dumbbell wall sit. 

To do a body weight squat: 


  1. Place your feet about shoulder width apart and facing slightly outward. 
  2. Your head should be in line with your spine, shoulders back, chest up, eyes forward.   
  3. Knees should move in line with your toes as you squat.  Knees should not go out or in or extend too far past your toes. 
  4. Bend your knees coming down into your squat at a depth that feels comfortable.  Aim to eventually get your thighs parallel with the ground.  You should aim to do 3-4 sets hitting around 10 or 12 reps. 


When body weight squats don’t feel as challenging, you should add additional weight (besides your own body).   Adding resistance with a weight will keep your body getting stronger instead of plateauing.   There are many squat variations using dumbbells, barbells, or other resistance equipment.   


Other Lower Body Exercises 


Squats aren’t the only exercise to do for your lower body.  A squat primarily uses the muscles in the front of your legs, the quadriceps along with your glutes, and hip adductors (the inside of your thighs).  It’s important to work the other muscles in the legs and core as well.    


The Romanian deadlift is a very effective and great muscle building exercise which works both on your lower back muscles, but more significantly and the primary used muscles when it comes to this exercise, are your hamstrings (which are the muscles in the back of your leg above your knee). 


To do a Romanian Deadlift: 


  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a barbell at thigh level. Your hands should be about shoulder-width apart. 
  2. Keeping your back straight, bend at your waist and sit your hips back to lower the bar. 
  3. Keep the bar close to your shins and lower as far as your flexibility allows while keeping your back straight. 
  4. Squeeze your glutes to extend at your hips (bring your hips forward) and stand up. You should aim to do 3-4 sets hitting around 10 or 12 reps. 


Strong glutes help to prevent injuries, back and knee pain as well as make everyday movement easier.  While they are working in all these lower body exercises, it is a good idea to do a specific exercise that focuses primarily just on these muscles as well. A glute bridge done on the floor, or a hip thrust with a barbell or dumbbells on your hips and shoulders on a bench are two ways to work your glutes.  The glute trainer machine can help you advance this exercise with heavier weights with an easier setup than using free weights.   


Glute Trainer Machine (NEW in our Indianapolis Location!) 


  1. Place your shoulders on the cushioned pad and place your feet an equal distance apart on the plate.  
  2. Place the roller over your hips and lock it in place.  
  3. Lift the roller bar slightly and move the holder forward to release the roller bar from its stand. 
  4. Pushing through your heels, and without moving your feet and shoulders, drive your hips up towards the ceiling while squeezing your glute muscles. 
  5. Once your thighs are parallel to your back, you have reached the top of the movement. Slowly lower yourself to the starting position. 


TIP:  Take it slow - Take time to focus on each repetition and really squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement. This will help you get more out of each rep rather than just going through the motions as quickly as possible.  Focus on your form and don’t use too much weight at first.   

TIP:  Avoid arching your back - Keep your spine in a neutral position throughout the movement and avoid overextending your back at the top. This will help reduce strain on your lower back and prevent any unwanted injuries. 


Don’t skip leg day and don’t skip your squats!  Squats build muscle and strength. Squats don’t just make you look good they make you strong! They mimic many everyday movements (like sitting down and standing up), which means they improve your functional strength.  They also, like other body weight and resistance exercises, are great for bone strength as well.   


Research shows that squats improve athletic performance, aid in injury prevention, and even impact things like jumping ability and sprint speed. For non-athletes, they make daily tasks easier and improve quality of life. In fact, leg strength is the best predictor of physical function in older adults.  Need help with your form or putting a lower body workout together?  Ask a LivRite trainer today! 


Topics: LivRite News

The Best Shoes for Every Workout

Posted by Jill Derryberry on Apr 29, 2024 10:39:14 AM

The Best Shoes for every workout


The best shoes for Every workout

I love my job as a personal trainer.  I enjoy talking about and learning about health and fitness.  One of the other things I really enjoy is shopping.  It’s a perfect combination when I can talk about what to wear when you are working on your fitness, especially shoes!  First, I want to acknowledge it is a privilege not everyone has to be able to take care of one’s health by exercising and to have money to spend on shoes.  Shoes for walking, running, weightlifting and other sports can be quite expensive.  As I will discuss in this post, shoes can make a difference in preventing aches, pains and even injuries in some cases, however, they aren’t necessary for all workouts.  (Swimming and Pilates are just two of the types of exercise you don’t even wear shoes while you are doing them.) Hopefully, this will help in making decisions on when it is best to invest, if you can, on quality shoes for the activity you are doing.     


Why do shoes matter?  Shoes don’t just look good; they protect our feet and our bodies.  They help provide stability, provide cushioning to reduce impact on your joints and help to prevent injuries by correcting any foot issues that affect your body’s alignment like overpronation or flat feet.   Old shoes or shoes that aren’t the right fit for you or your activity can cause: 


-foot, knee or hip pain or injuries 

-back pain 


-plantar fasciitis  




Of course, these things can be a result of other issues as well, but making sure your shoes aren’t the cause is a good thing to check.   


Take the time to find the perfect fit.  A poor fit may cause blisters or damage to your toenails.  Make sure there is plenty of room for your toes to move around in the shoe.  A shoe not fitting well could even change your gait which may cause knee or other pains.  Part of the job of shoes is to absorb impact as we walk or run, but the wrong shoes (or no shoes) can throw the whole body out of alignment when doing these things or even when standing. If shoes don’t have enough padding or don’t allow for an even stride (when walking or running especially) pain is an almost inevitable side effect.  The ankles, knees, hip joints and lower back are all affected by shoes without enough support or the right support for your feet.  

Not all shoes are created equal and not all feet are built the same.  Every brand of athletic shoe has quite a few different styles.  For example, the shoe brand Hoka has different styles of shoes for walking, hiking, road running, trail running, training/gym, lifestyle, comfort/recovery and more.  Within each of those categories, there are different styles that not only look different, but they are also built differently with different components, different support, and different heel drops.  For example, in the walking category they have the Clifton, Bondi, Transport, Transport GTX, Arahi, Gaviota, and Challenger.  Each of these walking styles is created and built differently for different types of feet.  Each style has a number after the style name.  For example, the Clifton 9 is the ninth version of the Clifton walking style of Hoka shoe.  Each version of the shoe may have updates and changes.  If you had the Clifton 8 and loved it, you can’t be positive you will also love the Clifton 9 because the changes they made may not work for your feet.  Most shoe brands will have a quiz on their website to help you narrow down the style that will work best for you.  Going into a running store or sporting goods store is a good idea if you aren’t sure what you need.  They usually have knowledgeable associates that can watch you walk or run and see what type of shoe will work best for you.  Then you can try on different brands and different styles to find what feels best to you.  My favorite shoe store in the Indianapolis area is Runner’s Forum.  (You don’t have to be a runner to get shoes there!) 

Walking shoes and shoes when you are going to be on your feet for long periods of time should be well-cushioned and offer a good amount of support on your forefoot and heel.   


Hiking or Trail Running? It may not be a great idea to wear your everyday shoes out on the trails.  Hiking boots and shoes all have grippy outsoles for slippery terrain, a harder/thicker bottom to protect your foot from any rocks you may step on, plus some have extra ankle support to prevent ankle rolling when surfaces are uneven.  


Flat shoes with little to no cushion are best for weight training so you can feel your feet against the floor to provide a solid base of support when squatting or doing deadlifts.  Too much cushion or high soles that are common in running shoes can make pushing through your entire foot during a squat difficult.  A running shoe can also make side to side movements difficult and may even make you feel unstable while doing these activities.  Training shoes with a sturdy and durable sole with little padding are great for aerobics and HIIT workouts as well.  These shoes will either be labeled in a training or cross training category.   


When doing activities like Pickleball, tennis or volleyball, look for a shoe that supports moving back and forth and side to side with a good tread and that isn’t too heavy.  Look for styles that are specifically designated for these activities.    


How long do shoes last?  There are a few factors involved when considering how long your shoes will provide good support.  How long you have had them, how much you have worn them and how they are constructed all are a few of things that play a role in determining when it is time to get new shoes.  Running shoes are said to last around 300-400 miles or 6 – 12 months.  It depends on your gait (if you overpronate, you will notice the sole of your shoe is worn unevenly if you don’t have enough support), the type of shoe and how you’ve cared for them.  Also, the internal cushioning of your shoes breaks down over time, even if you aren’t using them every day.  If you can’t remember when you bought your shoes because it has been so many years, or if you notice significant wear on the soles of the shoes, it is time to replace them.  Another thing to watch for, if you start to feel aches and pains in your feet, knees, or hips that you haven’t before, it may be time for a new pair of shoes. 


It’s worth it to invest in a good fitting pair of shoes specific for your workout of choice.   Not only will they help you feel better and prevent aches, pains, and injuries, they may even improve your performance.   

Topics: LivRite News

Group Fitness Dos and Don'ts

Posted by Jill Derryberry on Mar 26, 2024 11:09:09 AM

Dos and Don’ts of Attending Group Exercise Classes


Group fitness classes consist of two or more people performing exercises together led by an instructor. There are many different types of group fitness. Some of the most common are:


Aqua Fitness (or Water Aerobics)




Strength Training


Boot Camp

Dance (for example: Zumba)



Everyone can benefit from the accountability and motivation of a group fitness class. A study performed on older individuals found that group fitness helped improve motivation, both due to the mental and physical benefits the individuals experienced and the impact of positive social interaction. (1) Having a set schedule and knowing the instructor as well as other participants are expecting to see you in class can help with adherence to a regular workout routine.  


As great as they are, fitness classes can sometimes feel intimidating to anyone new. It can feel scary to go into something not quite knowing what is in store and not knowing if it will be a good fit for you. Walking in, it may seem like everyone knows each other and knows exactly what to do and where to go. Don’t worry, they were all new like you at one point and they understand! I think you’ll find a friendly and welcoming environment in any group fitness class, but to help you feel more confident, here are a few things for both beginners and seasoned fitness class attendees to be aware of when heading into a class.


DO your research about the classes prior to attending. Ask your club or gym about the classes on the schedule. You may even want to do an online search to read more about the format of the class you are interested. Sometimes you will be able to watch a video of a similar type of class to give you an idea of what to expect. Or walk by the group fitness room while the class is going on and observe the class.  


DO arrive a few minutes early for class. When I say a few minutes, 15 minutes is ideal. It will give you a chance to find out if you need to gather any equipment for the class, find a spot in the room and get settled in. It is helpful to not miss the beginning of class in case of any announcements, to hear what to expect from the class and you do not want to miss the warmup! It also will give you chance to talk to the instructor.


DO let your instructor know of any injuries or medical considerations you may have. Take a minute before class to introduce yourself and explain any issues if you have them. This will help your instructor know what to look for in your form and help you with throughout the class. There are modifications for most exercises to accommodate every fitness level. If the instructor is aware of your situation, they can help you with those variations specifically. (Even if you don’t have a chance to speak with them prior to class, most instructors will call out different modifications for each exercise.)


DO scan the area around you to ensure there isn’t anything unsafe. For example, if you are doing side to side movements, ensure there aren’t dumbbells or your water bottle in the way.


DO stay for the entire class. Remain there the entire time, especially for the stretching at the end. This will give your body time to cool down and help to improve your flexibility and mobility. All things that mean a less likelihood of injury. If you do need to leave a class early, let the instructor know before class. Of course, if you are feeling unsafe in any way, leave when you need to.


DON’T interrupt the instructor during class while they are teaching. There may be a point in some classes where you can ask a question but if they don’t prompt for questions, don’t ask during the class. Most often the instructor won’t have time to give anyone personal attention in the middle of class and it may disrupt everyone’s workout. This is why coming in early to speak with the instructor prior to class starting is helpful. Follow along with other participants the best you can and then ask the instructor any questions you still have after class.


DON’T come to class if you are sick. If you aren’t feeling well, please stay home. Germs can be spread easily in a small room with lots of people in it. Plus, depending on what ails you, you may not recover as quickly from your illness if you exercise too hard. Come back when you are feeling better!


DON’T stand in the back! I understand you may like to hide in the back row, but doing so will make it more difficult for the instructor to see you to notice if you need help with your form. It also makes it harder for you to see the instructor to see what you need to be doing.


DON’T get discouraged! If you didn’t feel like you knew what you were doing or that you could follow along in that first class, that’s because it was only your first class! Don’t compare yourself to others who have been doing the class for months.   Stick with it and as you get more familiar with the format and the moves, you may really like it. That being said…


DON’T be afraid to try many different classes. Maybe you tried Zumba and realized you have two left feet. Or you went to Barre but want to try heavier weights with less reps like in a Bootcamp instead. There are many different types of group classes to choose from and not all are for everyone.  With so many kinds of classes, there should be something for everyone! Don’t hesitate to try different classes and different instructors to find your best fit.


With frequent attendance and these helpful tips, you will feel more comfortable in your group fitness class. Knowing the instructor and other attendees are expecting you to attend is a great motivator. Studies have confirmed that working out with others is more fun and can encourage you to push yourself harder meaning you will get more out of your workout. (2) Check out the LivRite class schedule and try a class today!



  1. Stødle, I. V., Debesay, J., Pajalic, Z., Lid, I. M., & Bergland, A.The experience of motivation and adherence to group-based exercise of Norwegians aged 80 and more: a qualitative study. Archives of Public Health. 2019;77(1):26. doi:10.1186/s13690-019-0354-0
  2. Graupensperger S, Gottschall JS, Benson AJ, Eys M, Hastings B, Evans MB. Perceptions of groupness during fitness classes positively predict recalled perceptions of exertion, enjoyment, and affective valence: An intensive longitudinal investigation. Sport Exerc Perform Psychol. 2019 Aug;8(3):290-304. doi: 10.1037/spy0000157. PMID: 31548915; PMCID: PMC6756792.

Topics: LivRite News

Workout for your Heart Health

Posted by Jill Derryberry on Feb 26, 2024 12:53:44 PM

Workout for Your Heart Health 


Heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases affect more than 1.5 million Americans each year. Heart disease is the nation’s number one killer among both men and women according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The CDC defines the term heart disease as describing several types of heart conditions, including coronary artery disease, which affect the blood flow to the heart.  Decreased blood flow can cause events like a heart attack or heart failure.  Several health conditions, your lifestyle, and your age and family history can increase your risk for heart disease.  Some of these risk factors like your genetics, are out of your control, but most of the major conditions that increase your chance of heart disease are things you can change and manage yourself.   Most of these risk factors can be controlled with lifestyle choices, which will reduce your risk for heart and cardiovascular diseases.     


Heart disease is sometimes called a “silent killer” because no symptoms may appear before an event like a heart attack, heart failure or an arrhythmia.  Heart attack symptoms can include chest pain or discomfort, upper back or neck pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea or vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, dizziness, and shortness of breath.  It is important to note that the symptoms of a heart attack are different for men and women.  Women are less likely to experience chest pain that is common in men who are experiencing a heart attack.  Women sometimes have no symptoms at all or only feel nausea and fatigue.  Arrhythmia is a feeling of fluttering in your chest.  The symptoms of heart failure are shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen, or neck veins.  Knowing the facts about heart disease, as well as the signs, symptoms, and risk factors, can help you take steps to protect your health and seek proper treatment if you need it. 


Exercise and a healthy lifestyle can help prevent or improve many of the major risk factors that contribute to heart disease, including: 


  • High blood pressure is a medical condition that happens when the pressure of the blood in your arteries and other blood vessels is too high.  The high pressure can affect your heart and other major organs of your body.  Your doctor can measure your blood pressure, or many drug stores have machines near the pharmacy that will measure your blood pressure.   
  • Diabetes causes glucose (sugar) to build up in the blood because your body is either not producing enough insulin, or can’t use its own insulin like it should, to move the glucose from the food you eat to your body’s cells for energy.   
  • Unhealthy cholesterol levels.  Cholesterol is a waxy substance made by the liver or found in certain foods.  If we take in more cholesterol than the body can use, the extra cholesterol can build up in the walls of the arteries, including those of the heart.  This leads to narrowing of the arteries and can decrease the blood flow to the heart, brain, kidneys, and other parts of the body.  The only way to know if you have high cholesterol is to get it checked by your health care provider by a simple blood test.   


Lifestyle behaviors that can increase the risk of heart disease include: 


  • Unhealthy diet.  Eating too much saturated fat and trans fats have been linked to heart disease and related conditions.  Red meat, fried foods and some packaged/processed foods are high in these fats.  Too much sodium in the diet can raise blood pressure.  Excessive amounts of sugars and starchy carbs can create surges of glucose in your blood stream.  If your body’s insulin can’t keep up with the amount of glucose in your blood, the high levels of glucose and insulin can set the stage for insulin resistance and possibly diabetes.   
  • A sedentary lifestyle can lead to heart disease.  Not only does not exercising negatively affect your health, but studies also show that sitting too much during the day can contribute to poor health.   
  • Not enough sleep!  Studies have shown that those who get fewer than 6 hours of sleep at night had a 79 percent increased incidence of heart disease than those who slept 8 hours or more. 
  • Drinking too much alcohol (more than 1 drink a day for women and more than 2 drinks a day for men) and tobacco use increase the risk to heart disease.   
  • Smoking tobacco is another high-risk factor that can lead to heart disease among other health conditions. 
  • Excessive stress can also be bad for your health in many ways, including your heart.  Experiment with ways to reduce your stress like mindfulness, more fun with friends or family, yoga, and other exercise. 


What are the best exercises for your heart health? 


The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity (or a combination of both), preferably spread throughout the week.   In addition to this aerobic activity, it is best to also include muscle-strengthening activity (like resistance or weight training) at least twice a week. 


Cardio, short for cardiovascular, (or sometimes called aerobic activity) is exercise for your cardiovascular system which includes your heart and lungs.  Cardio exercise and weight training both help to improve blood flow and lower blood pressure.  Exercise is a key to living a longer and healthier life.   


Just a few of the benefits of cardio exercise: 


  • Lowers the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some types of cancer 
  • Increases endurance for daily activities 
  • Reduces pain and stiffness 
  • Manage high blood pressure and diabetes 
  • Improves sleep 
  • Improves mood and lowers risk of depression 


Also called aerobic exercise, a cardio workout is any activity that elevates your heart rate and gets you breathing harder.  No matter your level of fitness, there is a type of cardio exercise for you.  Low intensity activities like going for a walk, moderate intensity activities like Zumba and other aerobic dance classes or high intensity exercises like running, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) or plyometrics all count as cardio exercise.  Some prefer to use machines to get their cardio workout done.  Every LivRite Fitness location has many cardio machines for you to use.  (Check out my blog post on cardio machines for more information.) 


All the cardio equipment is equipped with heart rate grips.  When you grip the silver sensors on the handlebars of the machine, it will estimate your current heart rate.  Both hands must grip the bars for your heart rate to register.  It takes 5 consecutive heart beats for your heart rate to register on the machine.  When gripping the pulse handlebars, do not grip tightly.  Keep a loose hold.  Please note:  these heart rate monitors are just estimates and not 100% accurate.  If you feel faint, stop exercising immediately.  Aim to be at 60% - 80% of your maximum heart rate.  (A rough estimate of your maximum heart rate is the equation of 220-your age. For example, if you are a 40-year-old, your estimated maximum heart rate is 180.).  The talk test is another way to gauge if you are working hard enough in your cardio workout.  You should feel out of breath enough that you don’t want to carry on a conversation, but not so winded that you cannot talk.  


The American Heart Association also recommends simply moving more throughout your day.  Get up and move every hour or every other hour for even a minute or two.  Stand up as much as you can and move as much as you can.  Any activity is better than no activity.    


Awareness of the risk factors of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease and stroke, is key to preventing them. Monitoring your risk factors like your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, along with making healthier lifestyle choices will help reduce the likelihood you will be affected by these diseases.  Exercise is an important part of the prevention of heart disease, as well as many other health conditions.  Need help?  Have questions?  Contact a LivRite trainer today!   


Topics: LivRite News