Most of us already know that maintaining a strong heart is an important part of staying fit and healthy. By exercising regularly, you can help to keep your weight within a healthy range, as well as boost your cardiovascular health. The benefits of exercise for your body are undeniable, but are you getting the exercise you need to keep your heart healthy?
Exercise is a staple in ensuring good heart health, but many of us find it difficult to find something we enjoy and stick to, so we’ve put together the following to help you discover the wide range of exercises you can try to help keep your heart strong.
Why exercise is important for good heart health
Exercise benefits your health in many ways. Regular exercise helps to keep your body at a healthy weight, which in turn prevents conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and of course, heart disease.
Your heart is the most important muscle in your body, and like your other muscles – it benefits from exercise. Physical activity produces heat from your muscles, which causes your heart to beat faster in order to get blood to the muscles that need it. By working out, your heart becomes bigger and stronger, while your lungs also become stronger. Regular exercise encourages your body to produce additional capillaries, which will make it easier for your body to send blood to the muscles that need it most when exercising.
Through regular exercise, your resting heart rate becomes lower. This helps reduce your risk of different cardiovascular problems and keeps your body fit and strong. The NHS’ physical activity guidelines recommend that you complete 150 minutes of exercise a week, which should include both moderate aerobic activity such as a brisk walk, in addition to strength exercises which will work your body’s muscles. If you undertake more vigorous exercise, such as running or a fast-paced sport, then you’ll need to complete a few minutes of exercise a week.
Exercises to keep your heart healthy
There are many different types of exercise to help keep your heart healthy. Whether you enjoy going to the gym or have little interest in exercise, there are activities you can do that will benefit your heart and body.
If you’re new to exercise or you’ve been recovering from an illness or injury, it’s possible to build your fitness up gradually through moderate exercise. Keeping your heart healthy doesn’t have to involve a gruelling workout, and you could start to feel the benefits by completing 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. This may sound like a lot, but when broken down into small chunks over the course of 7 days, it actually becomes very manageable. Some of the best moderate exercises to benefit your heart health include
Walking is something that we have to do in order to get around. By walking for long periods of time, your body can experience the same benefits as if you were running, reducing your blood pressure and risk of diabetes and heart disease. Walking 10,000 steps or more a day can start to improve your fitness, as well as burn calories that will keep your weight healthy.
Cycling is another type of moderate physical activity that can help to improve your cardio health. Whether you choose to exercise on a stationary bike or on a bicycle, you can enjoy the cardio benefits that will get your heart rate up. As you become fitter, you can increase the resistance of your bike to make the exercise more challenging for your body.
Swimming is a fantastic exercise for boosting your heart health. It’s ideal for people of all exercise abilities as its low impact. Swimming regularly decreases your resting heart rate and works all of your body’s muscle groups, so you can get a full body workout that will give you great physical benefits.
Yoga and pilates
Yoga and pilates are great exercises for building up your strength. They can help you improve your core strength and make you more flexible, which can be important for completing other types of exercise. Meanwhile, hot yoga which involves exercising in a hot room can also help you to increase your heart rate and make your heart stronger.
Vigorous exercise to boost cardio health
Running is a good exercise to participate in to get your heart rate going. It gets your heart rate up fast and regular running can boost your endurance. If you’re new to running, it is recommended to build up your stamina slowly, running for several minutes at a time with walking intervals and only running short distances.
Interval training and circuits
Interval training involves doing short bursts of exercise at a high intensity, with short rest periods in between. It is recommended for increasing your fitness in a short amount of time, though it’s best to build up to interval training gradually and wait for your fitness levels to build through moderate exercise first.
Playing sports like tennis and football require you to keep moving at a rapid pace. Playing sport for long periods of time will increase your cardiovascular capabilities while also improving your strength. Getting involved in sport is a great way to enjoy exercise, and could help you meet some new people too. It’s worth checking out what local sports teams are available in your area to help you get involved.
A few things to bear in mind…
Any exercise that gets you moving can boost your health. While exercising is important, you should proceed with caution if you haven’t exercised much. Doing too much before you’re ready can put a strain on your heart, so work on building your strength up gradually. If you’re planning on entering a challenge such as a marathon, it’s important to train properly instead of attempting it cold.
You can help find the motivation to exercise by training with a friend or others to help make it easier for you to get moving. Check out which classes are available at your local gym and leisure centre – there might be some fun classes available that can help you begin to enjoy exercise!
Whatever your fitness level, taking part in some form of exercise to help you improve your heart health comes with many benefits. Use a fitness tracker to track your physical activity and monitor your heart health and you’ll soon be able to measure the difference.