A healthy heart stands a good shot at a healthy life. The sedentary lifestyle, overconsumption of junk foods and sugary drinks, and the requirements of a stressful job have made us vulnerable to heart diseases, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
For the heart to stay healthy, the body needs to hit the tracks more often. As the American Heart Association recommends, 25-minutes of moderate-intensity workout, performed 5-days a week; or 30-minutes of high-intensity workout, performed 3-days a week, are essential for a healthy heart.
Exercise and workouts not only strengthen the heart and the lungs but also prevent the development of comorbidities associated with heart diseases, i.e., diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels. The other benefits of exercise include weight loss, increased alertness, stamina, and enhanced energy and mood levels.
Before we list out some of the best exercises for heart health and fitness, here are some risk factors that must not be overlooked.
Who is at risk for heart disease?
Unhealthy dietary habits and a sedentary lifestyle are the leading but controllable risk factors linked to heart diseases. Bad diet and spending hours resting, or watching TV, resulting in obesity and high levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) in the body, which clogs the arteries that lead to the heart and the brain, resulting in heart attacks and strokes, respectively.
Similarly, central obesity, in which fat accumulates in the belly area, is the prime suspect in diabetes and heart disease. High blood pressure and glucose damage the blood vessels of the heart increasing the chances of heart disease.
Consumption of intoxicating beverages and taking other substances are also determining factors that can lead to heart diseases. These substances lead to a rise in blood pressure and damages the heart muscles. Programs that focus on facilitating recovery, like the alcohol rehab services, help long-time users wrest back control over their physical and mental health from the effects of these substances.
There are three main types of workouts that may strengthen the heart muscles and improve your overall stamina. These are aerobic exercises, strength training, and stretching. Experts s
Workouts for a healthy heart
suggest that a mix of any two of these is good for a healthy heart.
Some of the common aerobic exercises include brisk walking, climbing stairs, swimming, jogging, playing tennis, and dancing. These do not require any extra time and effort and even the busy bees among us would be able to find time to do these simple activities. Aerobic exercises lower blood pressure, improve cardiac output (the pumping of blood by the heart to other parts of the body), and lower blood sugar levels.
These exercises are also great for people who want to manage their weight. Furthermore, those diagnosed with heart diseases are advised to incorporate aerobic exercise into their routine in order to sustain the heart’s activity for longer periods. The American Heart Association recommends a 30-minutes aerobic workout daily for at least five days a week for longevity and heart health.
While aerobic exercise helps in shedding body fat, strength training workouts increase lean muscle mass throughout the body. Weight lifting, working out with resistance bands, squatting, and carrying heavy objects are some of the examples of strength training.
These help in lowering bad cholesterol levels and improve good cholesterol levels in the body. Therefore, hitting the gym twice a week is essential for maintaining a good level of fitness as well as muscle mass, according to the American Academy of Sports.
Stretching and flexibility
Aerobics and strength training lead to soreness, cramped muscles, and joint pain. Stretching, yoga, and Taichi can help you become more flexible, stretch out sore muscles, and strengthen the joints. An added benefit of performing these for stretching is their unique breathing movements and techniques.
Taichi is an ancient Chinese meditation originating in the martial arts and is also sometimes called moving meditation because it involves low rhythmic body movements accompanied by deep breathing. Yoga, on the other hand, is a combination of meditation and gentle deep breathing, which helps in relieving back pain, muscle spasms, joint pain, and improves heart health, and helps to stay away from fever. It not only relaxes the body and muscles but puts the mind at ease, releases tension, relieves mental stress, and provides clarity of thought to the practitioner.
1 in 4 people that die in the U.S. every day is a heart patient, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Given the gravity of the threat that heart diseases pose, we should be taking life-transforming decisions in favor of our health. Saying no to substances that might be elevating our risk for heart disease should be the first order of business, followed by a good diet, gym, aerobic, or a light stretching activity.