Fitness: Exercises That Benefit Your Heart Health
The heart is a muscle. No statement is easier to say but at the same time more easily forgotten. Most consideration about the heart concentrates on what the organ does. We know it has to keep beating to keep us alive. We know it pumps blood to every part of our body. We know these thing, but we think of them as part of the heart’s function. We often forget the heart is yet another muscle that must be strengthened and trained to do its job properly.
No Muscle Performs Well If It’s Weak. We’d never expect to be able to lift heavy objects or perform strenuous tasks with a weak back or arms. For some reason there’s the general attitude that the heart will just make do, however. We exercise other parts of our body and think the heart will simply come along for the ride. While that may be true, it’s even more certain the heart benefits more from exercise that strengthens it directly.
Do Aerobic, Resistance and Flex Exercises To Improve Heart Health. Poor exercise and a weak heart increases the chance of diabetes, stroke and heart attack. A good diet, accompanied by proper exercise, decreases the chances of disease by up to anywhere from twenty to eighty percent. Simply committing to aerobic, resistance or flex routines, for at least one hundred fifty minutes a week, results in a marked improvement. Other benefits we see are reduced stress and inflammation. Exercise helps keep down body weight. It also fights off high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar; which are all causes of life-threatening afflictions.
Heart Strengthening Exercises To Do
There are three general categories of exercise that make the heart stronger. They are Aerobics, Resistance (Strength) Training, and Flexibility Training.
• Aerobics – Aerobics are pretty much any exercise that increases your respiratory rate. When your heart rate increases and your breathing is faster, you improve circulation, lower your blood pressure and lower the heart rate itself. This reduces the chance of diabetes and most heart related diseases. There are many forms of aerobic exercises. Four of the most common are walking, running, swimming and cycling.
• Walking – The first major exercise we try in life is still one of the best. Walking is easy. It requires no more equipment than good shoes and healthy feet. Your pace is your own. You can talk on the phone, listen to music or simply take in the scenery. You can walk almost anywhere, indoors or outdoors. It’s recommended you do a walk for a minimum of thirty minutes a day.
• Running – If you need more challenge, then running is the way. It has the same benefits as walking, only those benefits are magnified dramatically. A modestly paced run burns almost twice as much energy as a brisk walk. There is an increased impact on the bones and skeletal structure, so you must be in decent shape to begin a running regimen.
• Swimming – With swimming you get most of the benefits of running without the intense impact. Just as with running, you burn a large number of calories. The only
difficulty, of course, is you must have a body of water or a pool. To get benefits you can’t simply float or do summer splashing. For heart-healthy results you need to swim laps or do exercises, such as water aerobics.
• Cycling – An aerobic exercise that requires more equipment is cycling. You’ll need either a stationary or mobile bike. As with swimming and running, you need to be in at least general good health to start cycling. Legs and lungs do most of the work with this routine. That improves heart rate and overall metabolic function.
• Resistance (Strength) Training – Believe it or not resistance training is an even better way to get rid of fat than aerobics. That’s because it helps lower your bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and helps you raise the level of your good cholesterol (HDL). The two most popular forms of resistance training are weight training and interval training.
• Weight Training – Weight training helps by building other muscles in the body other than the heart. Muscle tissue holds rich oxygenated blood better than fat, thus helping the heart distribute oxygen evenly. Working with free weights or weight machines is what we usually think of when we consider weight training. Lifting your own body weight, however, such as with push-ups and sit-ups, is also resistance training.
• Interval Training – This resistance training involves doing short intense bursts of exercise, followed by a longer recovery period. The pattern is repeated to the end of a full session. Crossfit is probably the most well know version of this training. Martial arts and some forms of dance can also be structured as interval training. Those choices also have the benefit of having a strong aerobics component. It’s not that you become a great dancer or fighter. It’s more a matter of using these physically based arts to increase your metabolic rate and strengthen your heart.
• Flexibility Training – Flexibility training is primarily stretching the musculoskeletal system to make the body more supple and pliant. Thought it doesn’t have as much to do with increasing the heart’s strength directly, flexibility training does make actual heart-health exercise easier to do. It also helps with your body’s sense of stability and balance. The most famous form of flexibility training is undoubtedly yoga. Certain forms of martial arts training, such as Tai Chi and Capoeira are also examples.
• Yoga – The well-known stretching and posing routines of Yoga are sometimes more demanding then the casual onlooker believes. Though there are many entry level positions that help with relaxation and meditation, there are other Yoga exercises that push your body to new limits.
• Martial Arts Training – Tai Chi has long been known as a smooth and fluid system of exercise and meditation. Its forms are suitable for people of all ages. Conversely the Brazilian dance and fighting art known as Capoeira requires you be in good health to obtain most of its benefits. Capoeira is fulled with tumbles and flips that assume a certain level of athleticism. Like Tai Chi, however, Capoeira makes the body more supple. Some of the routines are surprisingly low impact and easier for the beginner and novice.