In addition to following a healthy diet and incorporating important heart-healthy nutrients, you must also exercise to maintain the health and proper function of your heart. Exercise can help you prevent as well as reverse heart disease.
According to the American Heart Association, you should include a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, five days a week.
Why is exercise so important for your heart?
Many studies have proven conclusively that making improvements to and maintaining your physical fitness will significantly lower your risk of developing heart disease and all other illnesses. Put simply, regular exercise keeps your body in a healthy condition, and a healthy body can ward off disease much better than an unconditioned one.
Let’s take a look at the various types of exercise and why it can improve your health:
The word aerobic means “oxygen-producing”, and as such aerobic exercise stimulates the production of oxygen. Aerobic exercises include those where you are in motion including walking, running, biking, swimming, etc., exercises which make your heart rate increase for an extended period of time.
When your heart rate increases, this means more blood is being circulated around your body, providing necessary oxygen to your cells and tissues. Regular aerobic exercise is very important for maintaining heart health.
Anaerobic exercise comprises short-lived, intense bursts such as sprints and weight lifting. Whereas aerobic exercise is best for cardiovascular strength and endurance, anaerobic exercise is best for muscle strength and flexibility. This will help you maintain your health and avoid injury.
Should you do aerobic or anaerobic exercise?
Although it depends on the time you can allot to exercise each day, we recommend a combination of aerobic and anaerobic exercise if possible. This way you can improve your cardiovascular health as well as increase your muscle strength. Adding stretching to your routine will also warm up and loosen your muscles so you can avoid injury.
Following are the many benefits of a regular exercise routine. It’s easy to see why exercise is so important:
1. Improving cardiovascular efficiency – heart & lung functioning.
2. Improving strength and endurance.
3. Increasing energy levels and metabolism.
4. Relieving stress and tension.
5. Increasing range of motion and flexibility.
Cardiovascular Disease and Fitness – Some Tips to Follow
1. Before you start any exercise program, consult your physician to make sure you don’t have any heart conditions or other health problems that might prevent you from safely performing certain exercises. Your physician also might be able to recommend a program that is right for you.
2. Set aside time each week to exercise, and make sure you are consistent. Try to work out at least 30 minutes, 3-4 times per week, with a combination of aerobic and anaerobic activities (i.e. running on the treadmill and lifting weights).
3. Start slow! Don’t rush into an exercise program. Rather, take your time and ease into it, increasing your time, intensity and/or weights gradually as you go along. You will see much better results like this, rather than going overboard with it.
4. Make sure you stretch before and after exercising. It is important that you warm up before you begin any activity, and cool down once you are finished. If you do not adequately stretch your muscles before and after you exercise, you will be much more susceptible to injury or muscle tearing. We recommend 5-10 minutes of warming up before you begin, and at least another 5 minutes of cooling down post workout.
5. Keep water with you at all times, make sure you are hydrated throughout your workout.
6. Maintain a steady workout regimen. Sporadic workouts are not the way to go about it. Stick to a schedule. Also, make sure you maintain a heart healthy diet and include important heart nutrients to improve and maintain your heart health.
Regular exercise is only one element in reducing your risk of developing heart disease. To find out other ways visit our Top 5 Ways to Lower Your Risk section.