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 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.