Keeping the heart healthy is not only imperative for overall wellbeing, but required to sustain life. And considering inactive individuals are almost twice as likely to get heart disease compared to people who do, exercise and heart health deserves considerable attention. Regular exercise is particularly related to weight management and keeping blood pressure and cholesterol within normal limits, therefore lessening heart disease risk especially when joined with other heart healthy habits.
Heart Healthy Exercise Plan
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), being physically active encompasses any form of movement that moves the body and burns calories. Aerobic exercises are encouraged to elevate heart rate and include walking, jogging, swimming, biking, and hiking. AHA further outlines the following recommendations:
For Overall Cardiovascular Health: At least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity 5 days of the week, for a total of 150 minutes, or at least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity 3 days of the week, for a total of 75 minutes. Moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity is also encouraged at least twice a week.
• Moderate exercises include brisk walking at a three to four mile per hour pace, cycling at less than a 10 mile per hour pace, jogging, recreational sports, leisurely canoeing and swimming, dancing, mowing the lawn or yard work.
• Vigorous exercises include brisk walking at over a four mile per hour pace, cycling at more than a 10 mile per hour pace, strength training, moving furniture, aerobic sports requiring a high volume of continuous movement.
For Lowering Blood Pressure and Cholesterol: At least 40 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity 3 or 4 times per week.
Heart Healthy Tips
Move with Caution
Before starting any exercise program, it is important to move with caution and gain approval from your primary care provider. This is particularly crucial if heart disease or any other condition has been diagnosed, as health experts can offer an individualized plan to keep you safe and prevent injury.
Especially if starting out, it is absolutely okay (and even encouraged) to start slow. Begin with light activities and woke up to moderate to vigorous exercises as tolerated, slowly increasing intensity and duration over a span of time to prevent injury. This 4-week workout plan is excellent for beginners, as it lays out and incorporates basic, yet effective moves.
Water intake helps improve blood flow while reducing the risk of dehydration and muscle cramps. Healthy adults are encouraged to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day.
Consume A Healthy Diet
Diet is extremely important in all aspects of health, including of the heart. A heart healthy diet can managed weight, blood lipids and sugars which likewise lessens heart disease risk.
One of the greatest aspects of physical activity is not only its ability to strengthen the heart, but the natural reduction of stress. Managing stress through exercise and other stress-relieving techniques is also often forgotten about, though plays a large impact on health, including of the heart.
If you smoke, let out the bad habit. Smoking has a plethora of consequences tied to its practice, with compromised heart and lung function being just a couple of the many.
Schedule Annual Appointments
Schedule annual appointments with your healthcare provider to help identify potential health concerns. Knowing current health status offers the opportunity to prevent greater concerns later down the road.