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Many people embark on fitness journeys in the hopes that it will improve their outward physique and lead to a more toned figure. With such focus on the outward benefits of exercise, people often overlook the internal advantages of a regular workout routine. Exercising on a regular basis can improve your internal health and well-being as much as your outward appearance. In fact, one of the most overwhelming benefits of exercising is the effects it can have on one’s heart health. Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States today, affecting one in four people and contributing to over 647,000 deaths annually. As such, improving cardiovascular health is a common incentive to exercise.
Almost all exercises raise your heart rate and improve your heart health in some manner, but some exercises are more effective at doing so than others. This guide explores six of the most effective exercises to improve heart health for people who are recovering from a cardiac illness as well as for people who hope to prevent such illness in the future.
Of the many different exercises to improve heart health, cardio exercises are perhaps the most effective. Cardio exercise can take many different forms, but the most common for people who have suffered a heart condition or cardiac illness is walking, jogging, or running. Many people who have experienced a cardiac illness prefer these types of exercises because they allow them to gently ease back into exercise without overexerting their hearts. Walking and jogging can also provide an easy introduction to exercise for people who are just beginning their fitness journeys and who are looking to improve their overall health.
It’s best to ease into running rather than immediately kick things into high gear with a 5K. Start by interspersing your daily walk with short bouts of light jogging. Jog for about a minute and then walk for two minutes, switching back and forth for the entirety of your workout. Over time, you’ll find jogging easier, and you’ll be able to continue jogging for longer periods of time. This light interval training steadily trains your muscles and organs for exercise, reducing the risk of injury or pain in the long run.
Cycling is another popular form of cardio exercise for individuals looking to better their heart health. Cycling mainly exercises the muscles in your legs, but it also get the blood flowing throughout your entire body. This elevates your heart rate and encourages your heart to work at a more consistent pace. Older individuals often prefer cycling because it places less strain on the knees, hips, and ankles. Stationary bikes are beneficial because they allow the user to easily control the intensity and duration of their exercise by simply clicking a few buttons.
As with all cardio exercises, however, it’s important that you don’t push yourself too hard. If you find that it’s difficult to breathe and that you cannot talk through your workout, you may need to scale back your exercise. Pushing yourself too hard can harm your heart more than help it, so be sure to always operate within your skill set and abilities when you’re exercising.
Cardio and aerobic exercises aren’t the only ways to improve your heart health. Strength training has also proven very effective at improving heart health and decreasing the risk of cardiac illness in adults. After all, your heart is at the core of all bodily functions. As you build muscle in your arms, back, or legs, you’re also building muscle in your heart. Your heart must work slightly harder to ensure your muscles receive enough blood during the course of your strength training workout. Such training also reduces body fat, which in turn can reduce strain on your heart.
Flexibility is also an important contributing factor to your heart health. As such, yoga is a popular practice for people who suffer from cardiac illness or who are simply looking to improve their heart health. This low-impact exercise may not seem like much at first glance, but it can be a very beneficial practice. A large portion of yoga focuses on slow, sustained breathing. The lungs and the heart work very closely with one another, and breathing in this controlled manner can lower your blood pressure, allowing for a more stable resting heart rate. Yoga also stimulates blood movement throughout the body through sustained stretching. The practice of yoga may not be as intense as weight training, but it can still build and tone muscles, which in turn stimulates healthy blood flow throughout the body.
Swimming is one of the most popular low-impact exercises for people with cardiac illness. It may look a bit more relaxed, but swimming is a great cardio exercise that can elevate one’s heart rate quite quickly. Like many other forms of cardio, swimming provides a full-body workout that engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Because of this, the heart must work a bit harder to ensure the entire body receives enough blood to complete the exercise.
Water aerobics are also great options for people looking for a slightly more relaxed way to swim. Water aerobics may be a bit lower-impact, but it still provides a great workout for your body and your heart.
Exercising should never feel like a chore. Getting your heart pumping through dance proves there’s always room for fun in fitness. Many different forms of dance cardio can improve heart health, from Zumba to Jazzercise and many others in between. Even slower dance practices such as ballet and ballroom dancing can be very beneficial in improving one’s heart health.
As with all cardio exercises, dancing provides a full-body workout. Some dance exercises even combine elements of stretching and weight training to provide a more well-rounded workout through one simple exercise routine.
When you’re searching for exercise equipment that can improve your heart health, contact our team at American Home Fitness. Our local fitness stores are located throughout Michigan and northern Ohio.