Heart Healthy Fitness: Fitness for Two or More

by Marsha Hudnall MS, RDN, CD

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 Staying heart healthy | Fitness tips for maintaining cardiovascular healthFebruary is known as Heart Month. Most of us think of Cupid and Valentines, but there’s another reason February goes by this title. Health experts have cleverly designated it as the time to focus on heart healthy fitness.

How many of us have thought (like the experts) to combine our Valentine’s gifts to loved ones with the pursuit of heart healthy fitness? The idea probably doesn’t pop up on too many of our lists. But wait!

The perfect gift for your Valentine may be at your feet…literally! Physical activity is among the best things we can do to promote heart healthy fitness. But it doesn’t have to be that oft-dreaded word “exercise.” Remember the fun you had the last time you took a walk with your spouse, partner, friend or family member?

Taking a few moments out of each day to help each other get and stay fit can be the best gift you can give. Asking loved ones to take a walk or join in some other physical activity with you can mean more than most other presents. The built-in bonus is obvious: Joining the local health club together, making a commitment to walk with someone a few days a week, or working out together with weights while watching television, can keep you “on-track” with your own exercise program as well.


Try these ideas to share stay fit together throughout the year:

  • Pledge to take a 15-20 minute walk after dinner two or three nights a week.
  • Join your spouse or friend at the health club for a workout after work once or twice a week.
  • Make a date to go hiking, biking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing or some other active sport on your next weekend off together.
  • Weight train together using some of the following ideas. They can make it more fun and the time will pass faster!
  • Let your partner call out the repetitions and watch the timing; then you do the same for the next exercise.
  • Use your exercise partner rather than a set of weights for resistance. For instance, place your palms facing upwards against her downward-facing palms – then press. You do biceps work; she works out her triceps!
  • Pass a medicine ball back and forth. For chest work, face each other about a body length apart. Pass the ball back and forth, aiming for each other’s chest. Keep the ball moving — see how many times you can pass it in one minute. To make it more challenging, stand further apart and throw harder, or increase the number of passes you do in one minute. You can also try squatting while passing it back and forth, or standing in lunge position, working on balance.
  • Try an overhead toss with a medicine ball. Again, facing each other about a body length apart, toss the ball to the floor about halfway between each other. As the ball bounces back up, the other person catches it, bringing it over her head, in a smooth fluid pass. Bounce the ball back and forth about 1 minute, less if you find it to be too strenuous.

Get creative! Come up with your own ideas for helping each other stay fit.

photo by Debs