It’s no secret that regular exercise is important to keep your body healthy and your heart pumping strong. Adopting a healthier lifestyle that includes regular exercise can reduce your risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses and enrich your life to make you stronger and more flexible. Exercise is good for your whole body, but we’re here to tell you about the kinds of activity that directly benefit the strength and health of your heart.
Before you start any new physical fitness regimen, consult your doctor about receiving a comprehensive health assessment. Ryan Karnes, Fitness Supervisor at Texas Health Harris Methodist HEB Hospital Fitness Center, suggests getting a comprehensive body assessment as well as a cardio assessment to help you set fitness goals to help your heart beat strong. “At the Harris HEB Hospital Fitness Center, we do a basic assessment to gauge body fat percentage, body measurements and blood pressure before beginning a new program,” says Karnes. “We perform a cardio walk test and measure blood pressure during workout to measure each person’s health.” Karnes says it is important for everyone to get base line measurements at the start of a new fitness regimen, so it is easier to measure your results and assess your goals.
Once you have gotten an assessment from a health professional, you can begin implementing exercises that improve your health. “The type of exercises you need to do depend on your fitness level,” says Karnes, “I prefer interval training, which focuses on getting your heart rate up and then lowering it. This helps build cardiovascular fitness.” Interval training can be practiced with any type of exercise.
There are three basic types of exercise to help improve your heart’s health: aerobic or cardio training, stretching and weight training. Aerobic exercises ideal for heart health include walking, running, swimming and cycling. These exercises aim to raise your heart rate through fast movements, causing you to breathe harder and get your blood flowing through the body. Stretching improves flexibility, relaxes your body, and lets you focus your breathing to improve heart health. Exercises such as yoga help build flexibility and are great to stretch out muscles. Weight training is primarily used to lower bad cholesterol, according to Karnes. Using free weights, resistance bands or your own body weight, is a great way to build strength and work your body towards lower cholesterol.
Thirty minutes of moderate-intensity activity at least three to four times a week is all it takes to improve your heart’s health. Like any muscle, your heart gets stronger and healthier the more active you are. Regular activity will decrease your risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol, boost good cholesterol and improve the overall health of your body.