What Exercises Are Best For Heart Health?
Whether you’re just starting to get back into exercise or you’ve been a fitness junkie for years, the best way to keep your heart healthy is with regular physical activity. It’s important to incorporate a variety of workouts into your exercise routine, including aerobic (cardio), strength training, and flexibility exercises.
Cardiovascular exercises include running, jogging, dancing, swimming and other activities that increase your breathing and heart rate. They also help strengthen your heart muscle and improve blood flow throughout the body, lowering your risk of diabetes, obesity and some kinds of cancer.
Brisk walking is a great cardiovascular exercise that can be done on a treadmill, outdoors or in a group setting. Just 30 minutes of brisk walking each day, five days a week, can cut your heart disease risk by 19%.
The rowing machine is a great example of a total body exercise that gets your heart rate up and engages a lot of different muscles in the body. It’s also a low-impact workout that’s easy on your joints.
Cycling is another low-impact, high-intensity exercise that gets your heart rate up and strengthens the large muscle groups in your legs. It’s a great way to improve your cardiovascular health, and it also reduces stress, improving your mental well-being.
The key to a heart-healthy workout is to alternate between low and high-intensity exercise. This can help increase your heart’s muscle mass, enabling it to pump more blood and oxygen to the rest of your body, according to Danine Fruge, MD, a board-certified cardiologist at Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami.
If you’re new to physical activity, start out with light exercises and gradually add intensity as your heart and muscles become stronger. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week, coupled with two sessions of strength training.
For people who can’t make time for a full-on, hour-long workout, interval training can be just as effective at improving heart health as a longer cardiovascular workout. It’s also a good option for people who struggle with getting in enough exercise throughout the week.
Practicing yoga is a great way to improve flexibility and balance while also strengthening your heart muscle. It also helps lower your blood pressure, which can prevent or reduce the risk of heart problems and strokes as you age.
Stretching is a vital part of any aerobic or resistance-training program. It increases flexibility, which can help you perform aerobic and strength-training exercises with less risk of injury.
Flexibility exercises can also decrease your blood pressure and cholesterol, and improve your mood and self-confidence. They’re also important for reducing stress, which may have a major impact on heart disease.
To be sure that you’re exercising in a way that benefits your heart, talk to your healthcare provider before starting an exercise program. Then, be sure to stick with it!
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