A beating heart is one of the only constants of life. Its main role is to pump blood throughout the body. Our family history, personal health and lifestyle can all affect how well this fist size muscle works.
The heart is one of the hardest working muscles in the human body and can beat on average 100,000 times and pump close to 7,500 liters of blood in a single day!
Like other muscles in the body, we need to exercise the heart to maintain optimal heart health and in turn reduce the risk of heart disease which again has been the leading cause of death in Australia between 2017 and 2021.
So why is it important to have a healthy heart?
Well, unfortunately we only have one and we must take good care of it. Imagine if you only ever had one car for your entire life, how would you treat the car? I bet you would regularly service it, change the oil, change the tyres and keep that engine running smooth!
Of course, there are risk factors that we can’t control like age and genetics but luckily for us there are so many factors well within our control that will aid a healthy heart. A healthy diet, quitting smoking and you guessed it, EXERCISE!
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So, what is the best exercise for heart health?
First, let’s look at how exercise helps. Exercise is known to strengthen your heart, reduce your risk of heart disease and reduce the likelihood of cardiac events like heart attacks. Exercise has also been proved in some studies to reduce cardiovascular damage from an inactive lifestyle. As well as this, exercise has been shown to lower blood pressure, increase levels of good cholesterol and improve blood flow and circulation all while maintaining a healthy weight.
When starting an exercise program for the first time it is always important to consult your doctor before getting going. Once getting the all clear, we can then look at the best exercise for heart health. It’s important to add in different forms of exercise into your exercise routine the main two being aerobic training and strength training. Let’s look at these two forms of exercise and see why these are the best exercise for heart health.
Aerobic or cardio exercise are great for getting your heart muscle pumping and can include activities like swimming, cycling, walking, or running. These exercises will increase your heart and breathing rate and improve your fitness.
Strength training or resistance training is using a mixture of weights and body weighted exercises which will help to keep your body strong by building muscle strength and endurance.
It’s always important to add in exercises that you enjoy doing as then you are more likely to keep up the habit of exercising. Some of the best heart exercises for seniors include:
- Brisk Walking – Aim for 30 minutes per day for 5 days. Start off moderately and build up your intensity.
- Running – If possible, try running. You can burn more calories in a shorter amount of time and work your heart to a high intensity.
- Cycling – This has less impact on the body but still provides you with a fantastic cardio workout.
- Strength Training – Lifting weights under the guidance of a Personal Trainer can help to increase your lean muscle mass and therefore increase your resting metabolism therefore you’ll burn more calories at rest. Doing weight training has shown to reduce heart attacks and strokes by a whopping 70%!
How much should I be doing?
The recommended amount of cardiovascular exercise is roughly 150 mins per week of moderate intensity exercise which equates to 30 mins of activity 5 days per week. If you’re looking to increase the intensity, aim for around 75 mins each week. To see greater improvements in heart health, work up to hitting double the recommendations for 300 minutes for the week. From a strength perspective, aiming for weight or resistance training two times per week is also strongly recommended.
To define what intensity, you’re working out by simply use your speech. If working at a moderate intensity, you should be able to still hold a conversation with the person next to you. If working at a higher intensity you would have to pause to take a breath before being able to say a few words.
To finish; the evidence is clear. A combination of aerobic and strength training is the best exercise for heart health. It can also help to reduce the possibility of heart disease occurring.
To find out more about the best ways to improve your heart health and what exercises will suit you and your lifestyle, book an appointment with the team at Vision Personal Training Prahran who will be able to support and guide you to improve your long-term health and fitness.