Workout Tips For A Healthy Heart

July 02, 2021

Workout Tips For A Healthy Heart

While running full-length marathons may not be everyone’s cup of tea, you and I require a decent amount of physical activity to keep fit and healthy. 


A lack of physical activity contributes to a significant portion of deaths each year in the United States. Hence, getting sufficient exercise can drastically reduce your risk of premature death. [1] In fact, increases in physical activity even at the age of 40 or 50 are linked to a decreased mortality rate. [2]


Despite the striking evidence concluding that exercise is essential for good health and wellbeing, less than one-third of Americans meet the minimum recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for physical activity. [2


How Does Exercise Affect The Heart? 

The American Heart Association (AHA) highlights that lack of physical activity is one of the five main risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including strokes and heart attacks. [2]


Exercise can lead to a decrease in body weight, bad cholesterol, and blood pressure. At the same time, getting adequate physical activity is linked to an increase in good cholesterol, insulin sensitivity, and exercise tolerance. [2,3

This increase in exercise capacity is especially crucial for patients with cardiovascular disease, as breathlessness or fatigue can hinder them from performing physical activity for longer durations or higher intensities. Incorporating exercise into your daily routine can boost your body’s ability to use and transport oxygen and improve your ability to draw in breaths. All these occurrences eventually lead to heightened exercise capacity. [2,3


Plus, patients with cardiovascular diseases report less anxiety and stress and improved self-confidence. Overall, making physical activity a part of your lifestyle can enhance your physical and mental wellbeing, thus boosting your quality of life. [2]


How Much Exercise Do I Need? 

Suppose you wish to preserve and improve the health of your heart. In that case, you should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week or 75 minutes of high-intensity physical activity weekly. Other than that, try to incorporate muscle-strengthening workouts or activities on at least two days per week. [4,5


Usually, you will be able to talk during moderate-intensity aerobic activities without needing to pause frequently to catch your breath. Moderate-intensity aerobic exercises include walking fast, cycling on ground level or with a few hills, practicing water aerobics, dancing, rollerblading, and pushing a lawnmower. [4,5

Vigorous physical activity will usually leave you breathing hard and fast and increase your heart rate by a considerable amount. Often, you won’t be able to speak more than a few words without needing to stop and catch a breath. High-intensity activities include jogging or running, swimming laps, cycling fast or on hills, skipping rope, playing basketball, or playing singles tennis. [4,5

When planning your exercise routine, you don’t have to choose one over the other. Instead, you may wish to perform a mixture of both moderate and high-intensity physical activities. 


Admittedly, 150 minutes per week might sound like a lengthy duration. However, there’s no need to push yourself to carry out the entire 150 minutes of exercise in one session. On the other hand, you can consider splitting your workout routine into several short sessions per day. Ultimately, try to find the balance that doesn’t leave you burnt out but keeps you engaged and motivated. [4,5]


What are muscle-strengthening workouts? 

Muscle-strengthening exercises improve your strength by exerting your muscles more than usual. In older adults, these exercises are especially vital as they help you stay independent and make day-to-day activities more manageable. It is best to have at least two sessions of muscle-strengthening activities per week. [6,7


Some muscle-strengthening activities include lifting weights, sit-ups, push-ups, or exercising with resistance bands. Older adults may wish to wall push-ups or arm curls. Activities such as heavy gardening or carrying groceries are also considered muscle-strengthening activities. [6,7


There is no recommended workout duration per session, but it typically takes less than 20 minutes. This duration of time isnot included in the 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise. However, if you are doing high-intensity activities, you should obtain the recommended aerobic and muscle-strengthening requirements with 75 minutes of exercise per week. [6


How do I start? 

Understandably, you might find it challenging to find your footing when you’re starting. Despite our best efforts and intentions, starting a workout routine and sticking to it takes a lot of discipline and willpower. However, a few practical tips may help you create an effective workout routine that is manageable and best suited for your situation. 


Set your fitness goals 


Your fitness goals should be realistic, measurable, specific, and achievable. Setting goals that are too far beyond your capability may work for some people but often backfire for others. If your goals are out of your reach by miles, you may end up with injuries from pushing yourself too hard to achieve them. 


In addition to that, if you cannot attain those goals, it may also leave you feeling discouraged, demotivated and less enthusiastic about working out.


Device an exercise plan 


To devise your personalized workout plan, you first need to assess your fitness level. With this, you can more accurately gauge how much you can manage at your current level. Plus, these records will help you track your progress and set achievable goals. 


You can gauge your fitness level by measuring how long it takes you to run a certain distance, how many pushups you can do in a minute, and your current body mass index (BMI). [8


Other than that, try to ensure that your workout routine comprises of different types of exercises. Aerobic exercises and strength training exercises are crucial, but you may also wish to include flexibility exercises. Additionally, some people may get bored from doing the same few activities each day. Hence, adding variation and diversity into your personalized workout plan may boost your excitement, motivation, and enthusiasm. 


Start at a suitable pace 


While you may be brimming with enthusiasm to go all out in your workout routine, there are some health precautions you should keep in mind. Firstly, if you are pregnant, have any medical conditions or are taking any medications, consult a healthcare professional about how you can incorporate exercise safely as part of your lifestyle. [9


Say you are new to working out and not too sure how to begin. In that case, you may wish to seek the help of a qualified personal trainer to find the best pace and routine for yourself. In any case, it may be best for you to start slowly and gradually up your speed once you’ve gotten the hang of things. Increasing the duration and intensity of your workout routine at a suitable pace will ensure that you are at lesser risk of injury and that you are not overexerting your body.


Track your progress


It is essential to track your progress to determine if your workout routine is effective for you. Many fitness trackers and smartphone apps have simplified and made the process a lot more convenient. 


Technology has improved by leaps and bounds over the past few years. So be sure to use that to your advantage. For example, fitness trackers are a great way to monitor your progress. Many of these devices can monitor your heart rate, sleep quality, and distance walked. Some include ready-made programs that can guide you to achieve your fitness goals or a sedentary reminder that lets you know if you’ve been sitting for too long. 

If you prefer something old-school and reliable, a journal also acts as an excellent way to write down and take note of your goals and daily progress. 


Get support 


Community can make all the difference here. If you’re just starting, you may wish to ask a gym buddy to accompany you to the gym or get some friends and family to lend you their support and encouragement. Joining a fitness class in the gym is also a fantastic way to connect with people of the same interests and fitness level.


Your workout buddies may be able to help you with equipment at the gym, teach you the ropes, and keep you motivated and on track when you feel like giving up. Additionally, an online community provides you with a safe place to make friends and learn new tips, techniques, and skills. You can even have a workout session together via online video calls!

 

Conclusion  


Your physical health is of paramount importance. While working out requires great dedication, effort, and commitment, multitudes of research studies have proven that it can reduce your risk of heart diseases and promote better health. 


This article is a guide. It does not replace the health advice given by your own healthcare provider.



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