Did you know that nearly 2,300 Americans die each day from cardiovascular disease? That’s one death every 38 seconds. You may even know someone affected by heart disease and stroke.
But, we can change that.
Since we’re in the middle of American Heart Month, it’s time to focus on your heart and doing the right things to keep it healthy.
In this article, we look at exercise for your heart and how you can prevent heart disease.
The most important thing you can do to take care of yourself is to make healthy choices. This means eating well and making small changes to your diet and lifestyle. It means exercising more and making it a daily commitment.
While you can’t change things like age and family history, you can lower your risk of heart attack or stroke up to 80% by making exercise a part of your life.
Why is exercise so important? Let’s look at the reasons:
- It lifts your mood.
- Exercise keeps you fit and strong.
- You need doctors less when you’re fit and healthy.
- Being active lowers blood pressure.
- It boosts your good cholesterol levels.
- Exercise improves blood flow and prevents bone loss that leads to osteoporosis.
- It keeps your weight in check.
How to Start Exercising
It can be hard to make a major lifestyle change. This is why we encourage you to make small, attainable goals in the beginning.
For example, if you’d like to run a 5K, you might start by walking and then by adding bursts of jogging into your walks. Then, you can build up from there, especially if you aren’t currently physically fit.
Start thinking about what kind of exercise you might enjoy. Do you like to work out on your own, in a class or with a physical trainer? Where do you like to exercise? Inside or outside?
Ask yourself if some support and encouragement would help. Consider a trainer who can help hold you accountable and guide you on your journey.
You also want to check in with your doctor who can help advise you on your chosen activity level to make sure you don’t have any limitations.
The Types of Exercise
When exercising for your heart, your exercise plan should include some of each type of exercise listed here:
- Aerobic exercise or cardio increases your heart rate and helps with your overall fitness. Examples might be climbing stairs, running, jogging, walking quickly, swimming or biking. You want to be able to talk to someone while you’re doing it. If you can’t, you’re pushing yourself too hard.
- Stretching helps you take care of your muscles and joints and improve flexibility. Gentle stretches are good after you’ve warmed up or finished exercising.
- Strength training includes the use of weights, resistance bands, your own body weight (yoga/Pilates) and other exercise tools. You want to do this several times per week for the best results.
How Long is Long Enough?
For a healthy heart, you want to aim for at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. This should be at least moderate activity.
Consider 30 minutes per day for at least five days per week. Of course, if you’re just starting out, you can slowly build up to that.
As time goes on, you can increase the intensity and the length of your workouts. A physical trainer is especially helpful as he/she can make a plan for you and adjust it as your fitness level increases.
Remember that physical activity is virtually anything that makes you move your body and burn calories.
If the thought of committing to 150 minutes a week is overwhelming at first, it’s worth noting that doing something is better than nothing.
You are on your own journey, and everyone has to start somewhere.
Even if you’ve been inactive for months or years, today is the day you can make healthy changes in your life and exercise for your heart.
Set your goal for today. Then, set another for tomorrow. You’ll soon find that over time, your goal becomes attainable, and you feel immensely better.
It’s not all or nothing. Decide today that something is enough.
Ready to get started? Reach out today to see how we can help.