Exercise & Heart Health

17 Jan 2017

We are all aware that being physically active is vital for good heart health. Exercise can strengthen the heart muscle, help keep our weight under control as well as reduce high cholesterol, high blood sugar and high blood pressure that can lead to heart attack or stroke.

Perhaps not as many of us realise the benefits of different types of exercise. Here’s how different exercise benefits us.

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise improves circulation, which results in lowered blood pressure and heart rate, it increases our overall aerobic fitness, as measured by a treadmill test, for example, and it helps how well our heart pumps. Aerobic exercise also reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes and, if you already live with diabetes, helps you control your blood glucose.

Ideally, we should get around 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day, at least five days a week. This can include brisk walking, running, swimming, cycling, playing tennis and jumping rope or any form of heart-pumping aerobic exercise.

Resistance Training (Strength Work)

Resistance training has a more specific effect on body composition. For people who are carrying a lot of body fat, it can help reduce fat and create leaner muscle mass. Research shows that a combination of aerobic exercise and resistance work may help raise good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol.

At least two nonconsecutive days per week of resistance training is recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine. This can include working out with free weights, such as dumbbells or barbells, on weight machines, or push-ups, squats and chin-ups.

Stretching, Flexibility and Balance

Flexibility workouts, such as stretching, don’t directly contribute to heart health but they benefit musculoskeletal health, which enables us to stay flexible and free from joint pain, cramping and other muscular issues.

Flexibility and balance exercises help maintain stability and prevent falls, which can cause injuries that limit other kinds of exercise. These should be carried out every day and before and after other exercise.

These exercises have well been documented to help with heart health. As part of a healthy lifestyle it’s important we continue to look after the heart.

Source: Based on an article by John Hopkins Medicine.

6 Responses to “Exercise & Heart Health”

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  1. Randy 17. Jan, 2017 at 4:58 pm #

    The only time that I got any great amount of exercise like this, was when I was in Basic Training for the Army and that was 30 years ago.

    I know it’s something I need to work on considering my weight now and I’m sure I would feel so much better, if I lost about 75 pounds at least. It has just been very difficult to get any great amount of exercise between the agoraphobia and the fact that I can’t have people watching me while I exercise, which is why I don’t like the gyms.

    I haven’t even had the luxury of being able to do anything at home since my girlfriend has been home 24/7 for the past 4 years or so. She likes to make jokes that she thinks are funny about how I do things, which makes me want to not exercise at all, but she doesn’t really exercise either.

    This is when I really realize that we are two totally different people who probably shouldn’t be together. I need to consider my health and my heart which may break for a while if we do break up but I’m sure I can put it back together again and I will survive!

    • Ilana 17. Jan, 2017 at 5:25 pm #

      Thanks Randy. I know that you would begin to feel better if you could get to exercise, however you could.

      I know how you feel though, about people watching you and that’ll make it impossible if you could get out to a gym. As a child I was always being told to walk heal toe and after a while that began to give me a phobia of people walking behind me.

      After a while I began to realise how bad my problem was and started working on myself to try to correct the problem, but at the time walking into and out of a room became difficult, if others were watching me. There are things you can do at home such as Resistance Training.

      Although it’s a case of where do we start, it’s important to think about and then work on changing the way we think on what we have to deal with. A different attitude and approach will hopefully motivate you to start looking after your own interests, even if your girlfriend is choosing not to look after hers.

  2. Brad 18. Jan, 2017 at 10:58 am #

    It’s very easy to get into a routine of not exercising. We’re busy doing something else, we’re too tired etc, but it’s something we really have to make time for, even if it’s a brisk walk every day.

    I cycle in the summer but that stops in the winter and I have recently joined a gym. I’m trying to get to go, once during the week and again at the weekend. It’s a bit like Average Joe’s Gym in the Dodgeball movie and I like that.

    I do a bit of spin cycling and then stretches and some weights and I do feel better for it.

    • Ilana 18. Jan, 2017 at 12:19 pm #

      Thank you. Yes, I think you’re right about exercise. It amazes me how we make and find time for illness, which takes us longer to recover, than it does if we did the exercise in the first place, so you’d think we’d find that extra time to exercise anyway and save on illness.

      Given my Cerebral Palsy, I wish I could do more, but I always find time to work on daily step exercises and when the weather holds a walk at my own pace; but I do try.

  3. Lisa S Cyr 18. Jan, 2017 at 3:00 pm #

    Well saying and doing are two different things. I used to say I was exercising because I was running around doing everything literally to keep everything afloat around here and in my life.

    Unfortunately that wasn’t enough, but non-exercise isn’t the only factor with heart health. I had a heart attack 6 months ago. I weighed 117 pounds. my BMI was perfect. But my heart muscles were bad. I had no muscle mas physically either.

    I had several contributing factors also. Type 1 diabetes for 44 years, heavy on the stress, poor diet (more like no diet), genetics/heredity, high blood pressure and I smoked for 30 years (Haven’t had one since July 1, 2016) and poor circulation due to diabetes and smoking.

    I have very tiny blood vessels, so they get clogged easily if Im not careful. 30 days after I went home they started me on cardiac rehab. I had no idea how weak I was! 5 minutes on a tread mill and I was done for. But also I was in a bed for 2 1/2 weeks with little walking and my lungs were bad. I was on oxygen for 2 weeks.

    The exercise also helps a lot with breathing. After 30 days of rehab I had to stop, because my insurance wouldn’t pay anything on it. So the best I could do is walk at home. You would be surprised how just walking can help with so much. Strength improves, breathing and heart health gets a lot better.

    You have to build up the cardiac muscle after a heart attack. I plan on starting my yoga here at home, which I haven’t done in years and then if things work out, start back at the gym.

    • Ilana 18. Jan, 2017 at 3:26 pm #

      Thanks Lisa. I am so sorry that you’ve had to go through so much trauma with your health. But the positive part is that you made it and you came through.

      It’s true that we have no idea what our insides may look like even if the outside of us looks okay. I agree with what you say about strength, exercise and walking, but I think it often takes a bad experience for us to realise that changes need to be made.

      I am sure now and those reading your story will choose to change things for themselves. Always being at a disadvantage myself made me realise that I cannot take my own health for granted.

      Between mild exercise, a better diet and keeping yourself well emotionally I am sure will contribute to better health from now on. It’s also great that you’ve now taken cigarettes out of the equation.

      I remember many years ago, a doctor telling me that our lungs renew themselves, even if we’ve smoked for a number of years and that it’s never too late.

      I don’t believe it’s ever too late to renew our health. I believe you can do it. You know exactly what you must do.

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