Physical activity and exercise improve your heart health, reduce the risk of heart attack and heart disease, and can also help you improve and manage already-developed heart conditions.
VeryWell Health’s recent article, “3 Best Exercises for Heart Health,” discusses the best type of exercise for optimal heart health.
Exercise and regular physical activity have several heart health benefits, including increased heart muscle strength and better lung function; lower blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and high triglycerides; decreased levels of C-reactive protein, an inflammatory protein elevated in chronic conditions; and reduced risk of heart attack and heart disease.
To improve your heart health and reduce your risk of heart disease, experts say it’s essential to incorporate aerobic exercise, strength training, and stretching into your workout routine. Aerobic exercise makes your heart beat faster and increases your breathing rate more than at rest. This pumps oxygenated blood to your working muscles, and in time, regular aerobic exercise strengthens your heart and lungs, making them work more efficiently. Aerobic exercise includes walking, hiking, and running; swimming; jumping rope; dancing; bicycling; and strength training.
Strength training aids with heart health to increase muscle strength through resistance training. Resistance can be with weights and resistance bands or through your body weight with movements like push-ups, pull-ups, lunges, and stretching.
The American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association says that adults should participate in one of the following physical activity durations each week to promote optimal heart health and lower the risk of developing atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD):
- 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity
- 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity
- An equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous physical activity
Exercise intensity is grouped into the following categories:
- Light intensity: slow walking, cooking, light housework;
- Moderate intensity: brisk walking (2.4-4.0 mph), bicycling (5-9 mph), dancing, active yoga, recreational swimming, gardening, vacuuming, and raking leaves; and
- Vigorous intensity: jogging, running, hiking, bicycling (≥10 mph), lap swimming, jumping rope, aerobics, weightlifting, stair climbing, and snow shoveling.
These guidelines suggest that shorter durations of physical activity of 10 minutes or less can be just as beneficial as longer durations more significant than 10 minutes. So, when aiming for heart health. The total duration of weekly physical activity should be emphasized more than the duration of each activity or exercise session.
For those unable to meet the minimum physical activity recommendations, participation in some form of exercise is still beneficial for a healthy heart. Unless your doctor says to avoid physical activity for medical concerns, some training, when performed safely and correctly, is better than none.
Reference: VeryWell Health (Dec. 16, 2021) “3 Best Exercises for Heart Health”