3, December, 2023
HomeLifestyleHeart-Healthy Gym Practices: Safely Embrace HIIT and Vigorous Exercise

Heart-Healthy Gym Practices: Safely Embrace HIIT and Vigorous Exercise

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Dr. Arun Kochar, Additional Director of Cardiology at Fortis Hospital, Mohali, Guides You on Achieving Sustainable Weight Loss and Maintaining Healthy Blood Markers

Are you a young individual leading a sedentary lifestyle, only to discover that your vital health indicators such as blood sugar, body weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol are out of balance? It’s common for many young people to rush to the gym, believing that rapid weight loss will solve their problems. However, the abrupt transition from little to no physical activity to intense workouts can put undue stress on the heart, potentially leading to tragic outcomes such as sudden deaths during gym sessions.

Engaging in excessive and unaccustomed bursts of physical activity can strain the heart, resulting in abnormal cardiac functioning and, in extreme cases, sudden cardiac death. Intense emotional or physical stress can negatively impact cardiac ion channels, which regulate the heart’s electrical properties. Any dysfunction in these channels can trigger arrhythmias or irregular heartbeats, potentially leading to a sudden cardiac arrest. Some young individuals may also have Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), a rare genetic condition characterized by thickening of the heart muscle, which can cause abnormal rhythms during exercise.

So, where should you begin if you want to embark on a fitness journey while safeguarding your heart health?

1. Get a Heart Stress Test: First and foremost, consider undergoing a heart stress test to identify any underlying cardiovascular conditions, particularly if you have a history of COVID-19, known abnormalities in blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, substance abuse, or addiction. This test can provide valuable insights into your heart’s health.

2. Start Slowly: If you have a sedentary lifestyle, start your fitness journey gradually. Build up your stamina over an extended period, ideally under the guidance of a fitness professional. Avoid rushing into strenuous exercise routines.

3. Incorporate Intermittent Rests: During your workout sessions, remember to take prolonged intermittent breaks. These rest periods are essential, especially for individuals transitioning from a sedentary lifestyle to a more active one.

What About HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training)?

While High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is gaining popularity among fitness enthusiasts, it’s crucial to recognize that this type of exercise is best suited for trained athletes. Beginners should not attempt HIIT without first establishing a solid fitness foundation. HIIT involves specific mathematical calculations, including determining your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) and Target Heart Rate (THR). Monitoring your heart rate during workouts is essential to ensure you stay within safe limits.

How to Assess Your Stamina?

Your cardio reserve measures the difference between your resting heart rate and your maximum heart rate. The fitter you are, the lower your resting heart rate will be, resulting in a higher cardio reserve. Having a low resting heart rate indicates a healthier cardiovascular system, while a low cardio reserve may disrupt strenuous exercise.

Exercise Right: Dos and Don’ts


  1. Build up stamina gradually with professional guidance.
  2. Undergo screening for underlying cardiovascular risks.
  3. Maintain proper nutrition, hydration, and electrolyte balance.
  4. Schedule workouts during daylight hours to soak in the benefits of natural sunlight.


  1. Avoid sudden, unaccustomed bursts of physical activity.
  2. Do not exceed 80% of your Maximum Heart Rate during workouts.
  3. Refrain from smoking or excessive alcohol consumption.
  4. Never ignore symptoms like difficulty breathing, chest pain, left shoulder pain, throat discomfort, or back pain while exercising. Seek immediate evaluation from a specialist if these symptoms arise.”

This modified content provides comprehensive guidance on preventing heart attacks during gym workouts and highlights the importance of a gradual, informed approach to physical activity.

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