A new year is a fresh start! It is a great time to set goals and create a plan. Exercising is one of the most common New Year's resolutions. But just any exercise isn't enough. In today's busy world, being smart about our workouts is crucial. You must do the right heart exercises to achieve the best cardiovascular health.
Exercise for heart health should be holistic. It should include aerobic exercise to strengthen your heart, resistance training to build strength, and stretching and flexibility exercises to improve blood flow and circulation.
3 Powerful Cardio Exercises for the Heart.
It is best to be holistic with your workouts for heart health. Your exercise routine should incorporate more than just one type of exercise. Hence, let us dive deep into some cardio exercises to determine your fitting exercise routine.
1. Aerobic Exercise:
The American College of Sports Medicine describes aerobic exercise as any activity involving large muscle groups that can be sustained continuously and follows a rhythmic pattern. In simpler terms, aerobic exercises make your heart and lungs work and use oxygen to generate energy.
What are the benefits of aerobic exercise?
Aerobic exercise for healthy heart helps you lose weight.
It reduces the risk of diabetes, high BP, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, stroke, and certain cancers.
It will increase your stamina and strength.
If you already have a chronic disease, aerobic exercises can help you manage them better.
Aerobic exercises are one of the best exercises to strengthen your heart, allowing it to pump blood more efficiently and improving circulation.
Aerobic exercise can boost your mood. It may also help you manage symptoms of mental illnesses like depression and anxiety.
How much aerobic exercise should you do?
The American Heart Association prescribes 150 mins of moderate-intensity or 75 mins of vigorous exercise weekly. It is equivalent to 30 minutes of walking five days a week or 15 minutes of jogging five days a week.
Examples of aerobic exercises:
2. Resistance Training:
Resistance, strength, or weight training involves using resistance to make your muscles work harder. It aims to enhance muscle strength, anaerobic endurance, and the size of skeletal muscles.
The underlying principle is that when your muscles encounter resistance, they respond by becoming stronger. Regular and consistent resistance training leads to muscle strength improvement.
What are the benefits of resistance training?
Muscle Strength: Enables better overall physical performance and functionality.
Endurance: Enhances your ability to sustain effort and resist fatigue.
Cardiac Health: Enhances your cardiovascular function and overall heart health.
Joint Function: Supports flexibility and mobility, reducing discomfort.
Bone Density: Guards against osteoporosis and fractures.
Connective Tissue Strength: Improves stability, reducing your risk of injuries.
Metabolic Rate: Aids in calorie burning, contributing to weight management.
Weight Management: Assists in fat loss and body composition improvement.
Fall Prevention: Mitigates the likelihood of injuries due to falls, which is crucial for the elderly.
How much resistance training should you do?
The American Heart Association says you should perform resistance training at least 2 times a week on two non-consecutive days. You can perform more for added benefit.
List of resistance training exercises:
Squats: Targets the lower body.
Deadlifts: Engages multiple muscle groups.
Bench Press: Strengthens the chest and shoulders.
Overhead Press: Targets the shoulders and triceps.
Rows: Works the upper back muscles.
Pull-Ups/Chin-Ups: Excellent for the upper back, biceps, and overall upper body strength.
Push-Ups: Engages chest, shoulders, triceps, and core muscles.
Lunges: Focuses on leg muscles.
Planks: Strengthens the core muscles.
Dumbbell Curls: Targets the biceps.
3. Flexibility and Balance Workouts:
As the name suggests, these exercises will strengthen your body to improve flexibility and balance. While these exercises may not directly enhance endurance or strength, fostering flexibility grants increased freedom of movement during various exercises and everyday activities.
It is advisable to perform flexibility exercises when your muscles are already warmed up. It allows for a better range of motion without encountering tightness or pain.
What are the benefits of balance and flexibility exercises?
Flexibility exercises allow for a broader range of motion in daily activities.
Promotes better balance and coordination.
Increased flexibility and balance reduce the risk of injuries.
Flexibility exercises aid in maintaining proper posture, reducing strain on your spine.
Flexibility exercises can positively impact your stress and promote relaxation.
Improved flexibility and balance improve blood flow.
Regular flexibility and balance exercises support heart health by stimulating circulation and reducing the risk of cardiovascular issues.
How much stretching, flexibility, and balance exercises should you do?
The American Heart Association recommends engaging in each stretching routine 3 to 5 times per session is advisable.
Perform the stretches at a pace that suits your comfort level. If you are new to stretching, maintain each stretch for approximately 10 seconds. With regular practice, the flexibility of your muscles will improve, allowing you to stretch for 30 seconds over time comfortably.
Examples of flexibility and balance exercises.
Toe Touches: Stand, reach for your toes, hold, and feel the stretch in your hamstrings.
Quad Stretch: Stand, bring your heel to your buttocks, hold, and feel the stretch in your quadriceps.
Calf Raises: Lift heels off the ground, lower, and repeat for stronger calf muscles.
Yoga Warrior Pose: Wide stance, bend one knee, arms parallel – a warrior's empowering pose.
Chair Pose: Sit in an imaginary chair with thighs parallel to the ground for strong lower-body engagement.
Seated Forward Bend: Sit, hinge at hips, reach for toes – a soothing stretch for hamstrings.
Tree Pose: Stand on one leg, place a foot on the inner thigh, palms together – find balance and poise.
Hip Flexor Stretch: Kneel, push hips forward, feel the stretch in hip flexors – enhance flexibility.
Side Leg Raises: Lie on the side and lift the top leg up and down – a simple yet effective lateral strengthener.
Pilates Scissor Exercise: Lie on your back, scissor legs up and down – a dynamic core and leg workout.
Starting a fitness journey in the new year is praiseworthy. Optimizing your routine with the best exercises for the heart can significantly impact your cardiovascular health. To achieve the best heart health, incorporate aerobic exercises to fortify your heart, resistance training to enhance strength, and flexibility and balance exercises for improved circulation and injury prevention. Remember, the key lies in consistency and gradual progression.
Consider incorporating the Aware Health Rewards app into your routine for personalized guidance and seamless tracking. It's the perfect companion to monitor your activity, set achievable goals, and motivate yourself toward a healthier, stronger you. Let technology be your ally in this empowering journey. Download the app today and make every heartbeat count.