Exercises to Keep Your Heart Healthy
Exercise is essential if you wish to maintain a healthy body weight and lower your risk of certain diseases, but exercising also has a direct impact on heart health. The American Heart Association notes that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, claiming the lives of more than 17.6 million people a year, and it also responsible for 25% of all annual American deaths.
While exercising is a great way to boost heart health and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, some forms of exercise are far more effective at doing so than others. To get more bang for your buck during workouts and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, consider featuring more of the following in your workouts.
Cardio & Aerobic Exercises
Cardio exercises strengthen your heart and blood vessels, and in doing so, lower your cholesterol and blood pressure. Cardio workouts also improve oxygen flow throughout the body, and this, too, lowers your risk of heart-related health issues.
Heart-healthy cardio exercises include running, jogging, biking, dancing, swimming and jumping rope, among others. The American Heart Association recommends that all American adults undergo at least 2.5 hours of moderate cardio/aerobic exercise every week.
Strength-training exercises also help lower your risk of a heart attack or stroke. Weight-lifting, suspension training and resistance training are all strong examples of heart-healthy strength-training opportunities.
Push-ups, too, help you engage your core and increase your lean muscle mass, which in turn helps reduce the amount of pressure placed on your arteries and, as a result, your chance of cardiovascular trouble. Try to incorporate moderate to high intensity strength training exercises into your workouts at least twice weekly.
Not every heart-healthy exercise requires you to break a sweat. Stretching, whether through yoga, Pilates or other means, is a highly effective, yet often overlooked, form of cardiovascular-friendly exercise. Yoga, in particular, helps reduce arterial stiffness, which can elevate blood pressure and stroke risks. As an added bonus, stretching can also make cardio/aerobic exercise and strength-training easier by lowering your associated injury risks and making you more stable on your feet.
To maximize the benefits of stretching, try to stretch for at least five minutes at least five times a week. It’s particularly important that you do so before and after working out.
Exercises Not Recommended for Heart Health
While certain exercises reign supreme when it comes to protecting your heart, it is critical that you also know and recognize your limits. Running 12 miles on pavement without training or hiking at high altitudes without acclimating first can lead to excessive adrenaline, which can actually increase your risk of a heart attack. So, before starting any new workout routine, stretch first, and then work your way up to the tough stuff.