To be able to keep your heart healthy is fundamental. There are several ways you can accomplish this essential goal. Eating right, keeping your weight down, drinking alcohol moderately, quitting smoking, keeping stress under control and, truly important, exercising on a constant basis. The lack of regular physical activity can unfortunately lead to the development of key risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, obesity or diabetes.
There’s no question about it, exercise is mandatory if you wish to have a healthy heart and enjoy your life. But what exact type of exercise should you do? Which ones are suitable for your needs and your fitness level? Here’s a list of cardio workouts you can incorporate into your schedule.
It may not seem that way, but walking is in fact one of the best exercises for your heart. Walking is low-impact, easy to do, doesn’t require any special skills or equipment and can be done basically anywhere and by anyone, regardless of the age group. Power walking or brisk walking are great options to consider for strengthening your heart. Picking up the pace will elevate your heart rate and breathing rate and will help you improve your blood flow and circulation.
To maximize your walking workouts, make sure to track your progress along the way. You can easily do this with a pedometer app like our own ActivityTracker. Using such an app will give you the opportunity to know precisely how much you’re walking, to set goals for yourself and stay motivated to reach those goals. Also you’ll have instant access to a series of relevant fitness metrics, such as the steps taken, the distance covered, the calories burned or the active time.
In order to really reap the health benefits, it’s important to walk on a regular basis. According to the American Heart Association, adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week.
When you think of resistance training or strength training, the first thing that comes to mind is muscle mass, right? Indeed, this type of workout is primarily designed to help you build and tone muscles and improve bone health and hence become stronger and fitter. But this doesn’t mean it’s limited to these benefits. In fact, it comes with multiple other benefits, including of course the ability to improve your cardiovascular health.
According to a study, resistance training can effectively reduce body fat and cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. Another research, published in the Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, concluded that resistance exercise can indeed reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality. Now that you have scientific proof, it’s time to train. How? You can lift weights, do planks, squats, pull-ups, push-ups and more. It’s up to you and your preferences.
Dancing is fun. You knew that, right? But did you know that it is also quite beneficial to your overall health? It’s true, this activity has the power to improve both your mental and physical health. Dancing can help you relieve stress, boost your mental wellbeing, develop bone and muscular strength, improve your balance and coordination, become more agile and flexible, as well as improve your cardiovascular fitness.
According to a study conducted by the Western Sydney University, moderate-intensity dancing can significantly lower the risk of dying from a cardiovascular disease. Other findings showed that participants in a 12-week Zumba program manifested a considerable reduction in blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Zumba is in fact a great cardio exercise due to the fact that it integrates interval training. All that mix of slow and fast dance moves will get your heart rate up and improve your cardio endurance.
Cycling is a fun and low-impact workout that can benefit you in multiple ways. Getting on your bike and pedaling regularly is a great method to boost your cardiorespiratory system and to decrease the risk of heart disease. And this is not mere talk, it’s been scientifically proven. A Danish study showed that engaging in bicycling activities on a constant basis can be linked to a lower risk of coronary heart disease. Another study concluded that using your bike to commute to work can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and all cause mortality.
As already mentioned, riding your bike can help you improve your overall health. Regular pedaling can lead to an increased muscular and bone strength, to developing better posture and coordination or to a reduced body fat percentage. At the same time, cycling is an effective exercise to boost your mental functioning. This activity can aid you keep stress under control, as well as effectively combat anxiety and depression.
Swimming is another great aerobic exercise for heart health. Engaging in this activity on a constant basis can help you improve your lung and heart functioning, as well as your circulatory system. Research has shown that moderate-intensity swimming can lower blood pressure, as well as have positive effects on arterial stiffness and the blood supply to the brain. A different study, conducted by the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, concluded that swimming is truly beneficial to your cardiovascular health.
In addition to being an efficient cardio workout, swimming offers a multitude of other benefits. This aerobic exercise works your entire body and engages all major muscle groups, from core and lower and upper back muscles to shoulders, abs, glutes and hamstrings. Doing laps in the water will also help you build strength and endurance, burn an important amount of calories, sleep better at night and boost your mood.
The Bottom Line
Exercise is truly important in order to prevent or reduce the risk of various heart diseases. It doesn’t matter what type of workout you choose. Any workout can help you strengthen your heart. What really matters is to be consistent. If you live a sedentary life and only exercise every once in a while, you won’t get that far. To really enjoy a healthy heart and improve the quality of life, it’s best to create an exercising schedule and stick to it.