A healthy heart is very desirable. The best way to achieve it is through heart-healthy exercise.
What with today’s lifestyle where everyone’s rushing around trying to get a day and a half’s work done in a day, and wishing there were more than 24 hours in a day, very few people seriously factor in time for exercise. One may be busy, busy, busy, but if you’re spending a lot of time at that desk ruling your world, you are likely to increase your risk of developing heart disease. Also, a bigger worry is this question: are swollen legs a sign of heart problems? No need to worry just yet; there are various measures you can take to minimize this risk.
Regular exercise, particularly aerobic exercise, which is fun, has many benefits, some of which are:
- Stronger heart and cardiovascular system.
- Better blood circulation helping your body use oxygen better.
- Higher energy levels enabling you to be more active without getting exhausted or breathless
- Better endurance.
- Lower blood pressure.
- Improved muscle tone and strength.
- Enhanced balance and joint flexibility.
- Stronger bones.
- Body fat reduction, while taking you to a healthy weight
- Lower stress, tension, depression or anxiety
- More self-confidence and a happier body image
- Better sleep.
- Higher level of fitness and health
- More R&R (rest and relaxation)
Can’t see anyone saying no to these benefits, right? So how do you get started?
Here are 3 vital heart-healthy exercise tips
These form the foundation for any exercise regimen.
1. Stretching, Flexibility and Balance
Where you slowly lengthen your muscles. Stretching arms and leg muscles before and after you exercise makes them ready for activity, preventing injury and muscle strain. It also makes you more flexible.
How much and how often should you do this? Every day and before and after other exercises.
Examples of this are basic stretches that can be done at home. These days you can log into YouTube for videos you can use. Do check with your doctor, though, to find out what intensity of exercise is ideal for you. Tai chi and yoga also improve flexibility and balance.
2. Cardiovascular or aerobic
This heart-healthy exercise involves steady physical activity using large muscle groups. It is great to make your heart and lungs stronger, helping the body use your oxygen intake better. Aerobics is great for your heart as it can bring down your heart rate, controlling your blood pressure and consequently, helping you breathe better.
Some examples of aerobics exercises are: walking, jogging, jumping rope, bicycling, cross-country skiing, skating, rowing, and low-impact aerobics or water aerobics.
How much of this should you do?
Ideally, at least 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week. Examples: Brisk walking, running, swimming, cycling, playing tennis, and jumping rope. Heart-pumping aerobic exercise is the kind that doctors have in mind when they recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate activity.
3. Strengthening exercises or resistance training
This heart-healthy exercise involves repetitive muscle tightening until the muscle tires. If you have a heart condition, do consult your doctor before you begin any.
Resistance training has a more specific effect on body composition. If you have extra body fat including a large belly, a risk factor for heart disease, strengthening or resistance training can help reduce fat and create leaner muscle mass. Research shows that a combination of aerobic exercise and resistance work may help raise HDL (good) cholesterol and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.
How much of this should you do? At least two nonconsecutive days per week of resistance training is a good rule of thumb, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.
Some examples are working out with free weights (such as hand weights, dumbbells, or barbells), on weight machines, with resistance bands, or through body-resistance exercises, such as push-ups, squats, and chin-ups.
So how often should you plan exercise?
To enjoy the benefits of exercise, plan to take up aerobics that lasts about 20-30 minutes – about three or four times a week. Every day is also fine because maintaining a regular schedule brings you the maximum benefits.
Remember, it is always better to consult your general physician before you begin an extended exercise program, especially if you happen to be on medication, so that you know what to avoid and what is safe.
The Health is Wealth series includes:
And Job Burnout triggered this off – does it apply to you?