Being overweight is linked to a 45% increased risk of developing heart disease. Shedding extra pounds is not easy, but by boosting your metabolism you increase the calories your burn throughout each day. This will lead to the heart healthy weight loss you desire.

You've probably heard the term "metabolism", but do you really understand what it is and how to use it in your quest for heart health? Let me give you some pointers.

First, the definition of metabolism:

Metabolism is the minimum energy the body needs for basic bodily functions when resting and just awakened. Metabolism is more commonly referred to as the rate at which your body burns calories.

Why should you be concerned about metabolism?

If you boost your metabolism the more calories you burn when at rest and throughout your basic daily activities. This means fewer calories stored as fat and promotion of weight loss. The opposite is true also. If your metabolism drops, the calories you burn drops, and the result is weight gain.

Your muscle mass has the greatest impact on your metabolism. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. The less muscle equals the fewer calories. To add another wrench in your weight and heart health struggle, metabolism decreases as you age. The rate of decrease is about 2% every 10 years beginning at age 30. You can counteract this decline by being active and maintaining your muscle mass.

Building an extra 5 pounds of muscle will boost your metabolism by ~100 calories each day.

So, how do you build muscle?

The best way is to start strength training. If this is an area you are unfamiliar with it's best to work with a trainer for one or two sessions until you feel comfortable. Remember to always consult your MD before started an exercise program.

You may be thinking, but what about my time on the treadmill? Yes, cardiovascular exercise does build muscle through repetition, but the main purpose of cardiovascular activities is to increase your heart rate to burn calories, not building muscle. Cardiovascular exercise temporarily boosts the rate you burn calories during the activity, but this rate decreases back to your normal level after the activity is complete and your heart rate returns to normal. It does not affect your metabolic rate throughout your day like strength training.

Okay, you've decided you need to build some muscle and you're gung ho to start. Great! But wait one second.

A mistake I frequently see people make is trying to make too many changes at once. If you're not currently active, suddenly jumping into lifting weights and jogging 5 days a week is not realistic and you set yourself up for failure. You need to take it one step at a time.

Establishing a realistic plan is critical to your success when you strive to boost your metabolism, lose weight, and achieve heart health.

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