The heart is a muscular organ that plays a crucial role in blood circulation. A healthy heart ensures that your blood circulation is good and the oxygen flow in the body is efficient. It improves your overall health and hence your quality of life.
Exercise makes your heart muscle strong. American Heart Association recommends doing 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercises/per week.
Exercises that one can do easily to keep your heart healthy are-
- Aerobic Exercises like brisk walking, running, jogging, cycling, dancing, swimming, rope jumping, climbing stairs, using an elliptical trainer, or playing some sports, be it basketball, tennis, badminton, or soccer.
- Aerobic exercise is also known as cardio exercise. To start with, exercise for 10-30 mins depending on your aerobic capacity. You can also break out your workout into 10 minutes sessions thrice a day or two 15-minute sessions.
- To determine moderate intensity while working out, remember your heart rate and breathing rate are increasing with exercise, but you should be able to carry on a conversation easily. It means you are working at the required intensity but not exerting too much.
2. Strength Training– focusing on major muscle groups and exercises like push-ups, planks, pull-ups, chin-ups, sit-ups, squats, and lunges. One can use dumbbells or weights to target multiple individual muscles like biceps curls, triceps extension, lateral pull downs, leg curls, calf raises, etc.
3. Yoga-Sun salutations or Surya namaskar is a sequence of body postures. When performed multiple times, it benefits the heart. It is a combination of strength and flexibility training. One can do 5 to 21 repetitions of sun salutations depending on one’s physical capacity. Other yoga postures can also help tone your muscles and reduce your blood pressure and heart rate. Pranayama promotes lung capacity and helps with relaxation.
4. Interval Training– Includes short bursts of high-intensity exercise alternating with relatively long periods of active recovery or less intense activity.
- For example, jogging for a minute followed by brisk walking for three minutes, jumping jacks followed by marching in place, or jumping rope followed by walking. Repeat such a cycle for a period of 10-15 minutes. Various combinations are possible in interval training.
- Interval training is not for all. If a high-intensity activity makes you feel uncomfortable, do some other exercise suitable for your age and physical capacity.
Consistency is the key. Working out 4-5 days a week with a combination of the above-mention exercises helps you gain benefits for a healthy heart and prevent boredom associated with a similar kind of workout. Also, it will help target different muscle groups.
Get your cardiovascular screening done before starting any exercises. You can get a personalized exercise prescription from a Physical Therapist. Start gradually and then slowly build up the intensity of your workout. If possible, monitor your heart rate while working out. For moderate-intensity exercise, your heart rate should be between 50-70% of the maximum heart rate, and the maximum heart rate for a person is 220-age.
Always listen to your body. If any exercise makes you feel uncomfortable or dizzy, stop immediately.
The benefits of a healthy heart are immense. You feel more energetic, improve mental well-being, reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases ( exercise decreases heart rate and blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels, and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes), and improve the quality of life. So, get your heart pumping for a healthy heart!
STAY HEALTHY! STAY FIT!