Heart health exercises – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Being a cardiac nurse, I cannot stress enough the importance of keeping your heart healthy. Yes, we can do this by eating the right foods, but we can also do our body a favor by finding and practicing the right heart health exercises. You see, many cardiac exercises may be good for the heart, but not necessarily good for the body.

 

 

 What are bad heart health exercises?

Heart health exercises

 

Basically, any type of vigorous exercise that you are not really trained for is not that great for this balance between your heart and your body. For example, getting on a bike and taking a long 20-mile ride that you are not used to may be bad for your heart if you over work it. In fact, you can risk having an attack.

 

Running long distance on pavement, for example, is not one of the best ways to obtain that overall balance between what is good for the body and the heart. I did a lot of this until the aches and pains set in. Humans simply aren’t designed for long-term pounding on the pavement. You see, running this way strengthens the heart, however, it wears out the body.

Heart health exercises

What exercises are good for the heart?

The best thing you can do is take up an activity you enjoy doing and are consistent with. For example, if you like to swim and you have regular access to a swimming pool, then do that. If you live near an ocean and you like to body surf or boogie board, do that. My husband Ralph loves to boogie board, but I noticed that because he doesn’t do it all the time, when he does, afterwords, he looks a little frazzled (if you know what I mean, he’s not as young as he used to be…lol).

Here is a list of three of the best cardiac exercises

Interval training: This is great for preventing heart disease, diabetes, losing weight, and overall improving fitness. Simply combine short periods of high-intensity exercise with slightly longer periods of active recovery. So if enjoy walking, you might try alternating a few minutes at normal speed with a minute at a fast pace. Continuously raising and lowering your heart rate improves vascular function, burns calories, and makes the body more efficient at clearing fat and sugar from the blood.

Weight training: Actually, this is simply another form of interval training. You increase your heart rate during reps and recover between sets, if you are doing it correctly. By efficiently handling the demands placed upon your muscles, strong muscles ease the overall burden on the heart. Use free weights, which develop more muscles,, and builds your balance.

Heart health exercises

Weight training has been known for lowering high blood pressure, improving cholesterol levels, and helps control blood sugar levels. It may also help boost your metabolism that helps you maintain healthy weight levels, by increasing lean muscle tissue and decreasing fat tissue in the body. The really cool thing is that you don’t have to do as much as you might think. A Harvard study mentions that weight-training more than 30 minutes per week decreased heart disease risk by 23 percent.

Being active all day: People who are active in little ways the entire day (cleaning, gardening, running errands) burn more calories and are generally healthier than those who exercise for 30 to 60 minutes and then sit at a computer. Wear a pedometer to measure how active you are outside of your exercise time.

Here is a very simple strategy you can do for heart health exercises even if you are short of time

Take a walk three times a week for at least a half of an hour. During this walk, alternate a few minutes at normal speed with a minute at a fast pace.

Do simple weight lifting at least two days a week, by using light weights with 3 sets of 15 with 10 to 15 pound weights, resting in between each set for about 5 minutes.

walk for 15 minutes while you are at work during your lunch break and take the stairs instead of the elevator if you have one. Plus, stay active doing things you enjoy doing like gardening, cleaning or any other activity that is not only good for your heart, but your overall mood as well. Of course eating healthy will certainly help your heart. The heart is a muscle and you can read about how this one nutrient helps build muscle, including your heart.

 

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7 thoughts on “Heart health exercises – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”

  1. I actually prefer jumping rope instead of running however is 15 minutes session considered long? And Do you think that I should do it as interval training?

    Reply
    • Hi Furkan, yes, I think you should do this as an interval training for sure. 15 minutes, I believe is a modest duration for jumping rope.

      Reply
  2. Wow, I had no idea such a small amount of weight training could have such a positive benefit in the long run. I started weight training this year just because I wanted to be able to lift more weight if the occasion ever arose, but I had no idea it had such a great impact. Thanks for detailing this out, looks like I’ll be keeping up with my weight routine for the long haul.

    Just curious, did that study show any additional benefits from more weight training each week?

    Reply
    • Hi Craig, thanks for the feedback. Yes, there are many benefits to weight training each week. You also build up endurance and as you age, you are increasing life longevity.

      Reply
    • Thanks Craig, there are certainly additional benefits from more weight training, especially when done on a consistent basis. That is the key.

      Reply
  3. Hi, thanks for this post! A lot of people want to do exercise for a number of reasons and the points you raised in this post about doing the right exercise for you, your heart and your body are important ones, thanks Sean

    Reply
    • Thanks for the feedback Sean!. Each of us has our own desires and fitness activities that we enjoy most. The more we enjoy exercising the more we will participate in that activity.

      Reply

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