We know that exercise can do a whole lot of good for the body, but have you wondered how your workout helps your heart? In addition to following a diet low in sodium, saturated fats and trans fats, getting up and moving strengthens the heart and helps prevent vascular damage from high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Exercise physiologist Kerry J. Stewart, Ed.D. shares that “aerobic exercise and resistance training are the most important for heart health,” highlighting that a combination of different kinds of exercise are what benefits your heart the most. Cardiologist Michael Weinrauch, MD agrees. Here are the facts you want to know to keep your ticker in shape:
- Aerobic Exercise. Getting your heart rate up with some sort of aerobic activity is one of the most important pieces of a heart-healthy exercise routine. Walking, running, biking, swimming, and other aerobic activities gets your blood pumping, strengthens your heart, and overall helps to prevent cardiovascular disease. It can also strengthen your lungs, lower your blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and manage blood sugar!
- Strength Training. Incorporating strength training helps build lean muscle mass and decreases fat, which in turn can lower your cholesterol and blood pressure. Whether you like lifting weights, joining a yoga class, or getting outside for some gardening, these activities will help to benefit your heart’s health.
- Flexibility and Balance. Practicing your flexibility and keeping good balance have a more indirect effect on your heart. Flexibility allows you to move more freely and engage in aerobic and strengthening activities more easily, and lessens joint and muscle pain. Dr. Weinrauch notes that “stretching, flexibility, and balance exercises likely have no direct benefit on cardiovascular health, but they help prevent injuries in runners and help prevent falls and maintain mobility in older individuals”. So while exercises like tai chi and yoga might not directly affect your heart, they can help keep you in shape to do the heart-healthy activities you love.
Want some help getting started with your heart-healthy exercise routine? Check out Mind Over Matter (MOM)’s one-on-one personal training here for support tailored to your needs.