Heart Healthy Exercise

February 28, 2022
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When it comes to being heart healthy, regular cardio-based physical activity enables the heart to achieve improved blood flow in the small vessels around it. Exercise also:

  • Lowers your blood pressure
  • Improves your cholesterol
  • Reduces your risk for irregular rhythm
  • Reduces the stress on your heart.

How much exercise should someone do?

Experts recommend adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise like brisk walking, or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise like running each week, in addition to two weekly sessions of strength training.  For some, this may be a goal to work towards and it may be more realistic to begin with a 20-minute session of light exercise a few days a week and then build from there.  Once able to perform cardio training for 3-5 days per week, duration can last anywhere from 30-60 minutes per session and intensity can vary from workout to workout.

Heart Rate: Heart Rate (HR) is recorded in beats per minute (BPM) and the increase in wearable technology gives several options to track immediately right on your wrist during exercise. Moderate pace/intensity is approximately 50-65 percent of your maximum heart rate referred to as MHR, and a vigorous can put the exerciser at 80-95 percent of MHR.

What types of exercises should someone do each week?

  • Upper body work: Push-ups from the floor
  • Lower body work: Freestanding squats to work legs and glutes
  • Core strengthening: Basic plank
  • Cardio: Jumping, alternate raising knees or any other activity that raises your heart rate
  • Stretches: Simple stretches you might have done in high school gym class will work, such as sitting on the floor and stretching to touch your toes
  • More Exercises

Do sets of 10-11 repetitions of each exercise. To create a circuit, do each strength, core and cardio exercise for about a minute, with 15 to 60 seconds of rest between exercises, depending on your fitness level.

Heart Healthy Exercises at Home

Your at-home workout will be different than your gym workout and you may find yourself using different muscles than you typically use. Be sure to warm up with some jumping jacks or a brisk walk and stretch before you begin.

Do lunges (with or without weights). For a more advanced workout for your legs try doing a combination of lunges and squat jumps. You can also do sets of climbing the stairs in your home for a leg and cardio workout.

Work out your arms. Grab some weights (or fill some empty water bottles or milk jugs with water or rocks) and do bicep curls, side or front arm lifts or overhead lifts. You can also use a towel held above your head, with both hands spread fully apart, to do a lat pull down. The tension from holding the towel will give your shoulder and arm muscles a workout.

Strengthen your core. To work out your core, sit-ups, push-ups and planks all work great and can be done indoors or outdoors.

Cool down. Be sure to end your workout by cooling down and stretching your muscles.