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How to Improve Heart Health with Exercises

How to Improve Heart Health with Exercises

A sedentary or inactive lifestyle is one of the main risk factors for heart disease. People who don't exercise are almost twice as likely to develop heart disease1. But, luckily, it is a risk factor that can be avoided with a little willpower and daily exercise.
The heart is a muscle and it becomes stronger and healthier if you lead an active life. It's never too late to start exercising, and you don't need to be an athlete to do that.
In this article you will learn about the benefits of leading a physically active life, the types of exercises that are most beneficial for the heart, and how long to exercise for. This way, you will have the basic information to start your exercise routine.

Improve Heart Health with Exercises

1. Why do exercises?

Exercise can benefit the body in different ways, ranging from increasing endurance, reducing stress, tension, anxiety, and depression to improving sleep, protecting against bone loss, and making you feel healthier2.
However, exercising is also closely linked to improving heart health. Some benefits are the following:
Strengthens the heart and cardiovascular system
Burns calories and helps maintain a healthy weight
Further develops flow and assists the body with utilizing oxygen better
Reduces blood pressure
Maintains healthier cholesterol levels
Allows the heart arteries to dilate more quickly
Without a doubt, leading an active lifestyle is very good for your health. But now you're probably wondering what types of exercise you should do. Don't worry, we will answer your question in the next point.

2. What type of exercises to do

Generally, exercises can be divided into three basic types:
Stretching: It consists of slowly stretching the muscles without causing pain. Stretching your muscles before and after exercising helps prepare your muscles for activity and prevents injuries and muscle cramps. Likewise, continually stretching increases the range of motion and flexibility.
Cardiovascular or aerobic exercises: This is a constant physical activity that uses large muscle groups. This sort of activity fortifies the heart and lungs and works on the body's capacity to utilize oxygen. Aerobic exercises are the most beneficial for the heart. Over time, these can lower heart rate and blood pressure and improve breathing. Some examples are running, jogging, and cycling.

Strengthening exercises: Consists of repetitive contractions of the muscles until they tire. To do this, weights, resistance bands, or your body weight are used, like yoga. It is necessary to note that some strengthening exercises are not recommended for people with heart failure.
When done properly, any type of exercise can be good for your body and can even keep you healthy during illness. However, aerobic exercise is best for your heart. How often and for how long should you do these exercises? We will give the guidelines immediately.

3. Frequency and time of cardiovascular exercises

A heart-friendly cardiovascular exercise routine should last between 20 and 30 minutes. Do these activities at least three or four times a week. However, if you want to lose weight, you should do some type of cardiovascular exercise for 30 to 45 minutes or more, four or more days a week.

You can start with moderate-intensity activities and little by little increase the intensity of the exercises. Aerobic exercise can even be done in short blocks of time, such as taking short walking breaks a few times during the day.

Over time, you will be able to exercise for longer periods. Do this gradually so your body can adapt to the physical activity.

For many people, walking is a great option for aerobic exercise. This is one of the most natural forms of exercise. It's safe, it's simple, and all you need to get started is a good pair of sneakers.

In addition to walking, other aerobic exercise options include swimming, dancing, hiking on flat ground, jumping rope, and even doing a little gardening.

Finally, to maximize cardiac benefits, you can add some type of strengthening exercise to your week. For example, resistance training with weights can improve your strength and help your muscles work better together. However, take it easy and don't push yourself too hard.

4. Don't forget to warm up and stretch

Last but not least, we must talk about the fundamentals of warming up. Warming up will help prevent injuries during exercise. You should do a 5-10-minute warm-up, which includes stretching exercises and gentle movements that slightly increase your heart rate.

Some activities include walking a bit, marching in place, slowly pedaling on a bicycle ergometer, or light jogging.

At the end of the exercises, remember to stretch the muscles to allow them to recover from the effort made. Don't bounce when stretching, as this can injure your muscles. Don't overstretch your muscles either, as this could cause a strain or even a tear.

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