Heart Healthy Exercise January 19 2016
February is American Heart Month, and according to the Center for Disease Control, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Here are a few ways to help put an end to this trend.
The heart pumps blood through the body and, when exercised, it works most effectively and efficiently. And a little regular exercise – just 30 minutes a day; five days a week - goes a long way to keeping our arteries open, our blood vessels flexible, and our blood pressure and cholesterol at lower levels.
NOTE: Before starting or increasing any exercise regimen, check with your doctor first. We want you and your heart happy and healthy!
FIRST FUEL PROPERLY: Like a car, in order to get your body to go, you need to keep it fueled. Eating the right things will have you feeling strong. Fill up on foods that are low in saturated and Trans fats, and sodium; fruits and vegetables; lean proteins and fiber-rich whole grains.
THEN GET MOVING: Aerobic exercise gets the blood pumping, which is critical to getting, and keeping, healthy. Examples of aerobic exercise include:
- Walking: Walking is one of the easiest aerobic exercises to tackle. We do it every day – from the house to the car; from the parking lot to work; and so forth. The difference between walking out of necessity and for fitness is its intensity. You want to work your way up to walking at a level which is strenuous, but not where it is too difficult to breathe or carry on a conversation (aka a “talk test”). To maximize the benefits, you want to walk standing up straight and pumping your arms to propel you forward.
- Cycling: Biking, whether on the road or trails, or inside on a stationary bike, is ideal for people who suffer from arthritis, knee or other orthopedic problems. It gets the heart pumping without putting pressure on your knees, hips, back and ankles.
- Swimming: Swimming is a tremendous total body exercise, that helps raise your heart rate while easing stress on your joints. The top drawback - it requires access to a pool to start and maintain a regimen. If you have a place to swim, but you are not completely comfortable in the water, wade in with a Water Aerobics, Water Walking/Jogging or even Water Zumba class!
If you are not overly active right now, do not dive right it at 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Find an active activity that you find fun – walking with friends, Zumba with co-workers, dancing in the kitchen – and gradually work your way up from 5 minutes to 30.
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