A healthy heart will help increase your longevity, overall health, and quality of life. With that in mind, it’s incredibly important that you do all you can to take care of your heart. Exercise, paired with a healthy diet, can help you protect your heart, especially as you get older. Here are some recommended exercises and other things you should know.
How Does Exercise Prevent Heart Disease?
It’s important to remember that your heart is a muscle and just like every other in your muscle, it needs exercise. Muscles that are utilized regularly become stronger and healthier whereas muscles that aren’t used frequently begin to weaken (1). A healthy and active heart will pump more blood through the body at optimal efficiency with little strain. Here are some of the benefits of exercise on the heart:
- Exercise can help control blood pressure - It stimulates nitric oxide, which keeps blood vessels open
- Regular exercise can raise your ‘good’ cholesterol levels
- Those who participate in exercise-based rehabilitation after a heart attack are more likely to live longer
- Regular exercise can reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol levels
- Physical activity can reduce the risk of coronary artery disease
Of course, when it comes to heart health, dietary habits will play the largest role. A heart-healthy diet full of leafy greens, berries, and nuts will help make sure your heart is operating at 100%. Processed foods can be very damaging to the heart and the surrounding arteries. Try to avoid these foods as much as possible.
How To Improve Heart Health With Exercise
Any physical exercise that gets your heart pumping is good for the heart, however, there are some exercises that are more effective than others. The best part about these exercises is that they work out other parts of your body as well. Here are some healthy heart exercises that doctors around the world recommend:
- Aerobic exercises - These exercises improve circulation which lowers blood pressure and heart rate. You should do these exercises for 30 minutes a day at least five days a week
- Strength training - This training focuses more on body composition. Those who carry a lot of body fat are more prone to heart disease
- Stretching - Stretching helps improve musculoskeletal health which is a critical part of being able to maintain aerobic exercise and resistance training
While exercising regularly is incredibly important, it’s also important to not overwork yourself. Overworking yourself can be bad for your heart and can lead to injuries that make it difficult to exercise in the future.
What Is The Best Exercise For The Heart?
Regular heart-strengthening exercises can help you burn calories, lower your blood pressure, reduce your LDL cholesterol, and boost your HDL cholesterol. As a general rule of thumb with any type of exercise, the best type is the one that you can do on a regular basis. This means choosing a type of exercise that you can see yourself enjoying.
If you want to do some cardio but aren’t interested in running around your block you can go swimming, play basketball, or walk your dogs. Exercising doesn’t have to be boring, you can work with a trainer, yourself, in a class, at home, at the gym, with a friend, the possibilities are limitless. It’s also best to check with your doctor before beginning an exercise regimen to ensure you’re healthy enough to work out on a regular basis.
What Are 3 Health Problems Caused By a Lack of Exercise?
Unfortunately, many Americans don’t get the exercise needed to ensure their heart is as healthy as possible. In fact, only one in four US adults gets the recommended levels of physical activities. Lack of exercise and heart disease have been linked together in countless studies. Here are three health problems that can be caused by a lack of exercise:
- Heart disease - A lack of exercise can increase the likelihood of developing heart disease risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes
- Type 2 diabetes - Physical activity helps control blood sugar (glucose), weight, and blood pressure and helps raise “good” cholesterol and lower “bad” cholesterol
- Cancer - Adequate exercise can lower the risk of bladder, breast, colon, uterus, esophagus, kidney, lung, and stomach cancer
As mentioned earlier, exercising provides numerous benefits that extend beyond cardiovascular benefits. However, these benefits also play an indirect role in boosting your cardiovascular health. For example, stretching can prevent injuries that can lead to inadequate exercise.
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