Holistic Heart Disease Prevention
Heart Healthy Exercise
Regular exercise is good for your health.
A moderate amount of activity performed five days per week can:
- Improve your heart health
- Improve your heart disease risk factors
- Improve your strength and feeling of well-being
Improve your heart health:
- Reduce the risk of dying from heart disease
- Help your heart and cardiovascular system work more efficiently
- Decrease symptoms of angina (chest discomfort) and heart failure
Improve your heart disease risk factors:
- Reduce risk of developing diabetes and high blood pressure
- Improve blood sugar tolerance if you have diabetes
- Help control high blood pressure, by as much as 8 to 10 points in both systolic and diastolic pressure
- Improve blood lipids (cholesterol, LDL, HDL and triglycerides) along with other strategies (diet and medications)
- Support efforts to stop smoking
- Control weight and reduce body fat
Improve your strength and feeling of well-being:
- Helps keep muscles, bones, and joints healthy
- Increase your ability to do daily activities without getting tired
- Improve your balance and flexibility
- Maintain muscle tone, improve your posture, and reduce the risk of falling and fracturing bones
- Lessen feelings of anxiety or depression
- Improve your sense of well-being and help you feel good about yourself
To be safe and give you the most benefit, your program should be:
- Aerobic: this type of activity increases the rate and depth of your breathing, raises your heart rate and uses the large muscle groups. Examples include walking, cycling or swimming.
- Regular: moderate intensity activity performed on most days of the week (starting with small amounts of activity and building up to 30 to 40 minutes of continuous activity, or if you prefer, 10 minutes increments throughout the day to equal 30 to 40 minutes
- Safe: adults with health problems (such as heart disease, diabetes or obesity) or those at high risk, men over age 40 and women over age 50 should talk with their doctor before starting an exercise program.
Three phases of exercise
Like a recipe, these three phases are the essential ingredients of your exercise session:
1. The warm-up
This phase helps you move from rest to activity. Just as you allow a car to warm up when the engine is cold to prevent damage to the motor, a warm-up lessens the stress placed on your heart and muscles. The warm-up helps to slowly increase breathing, heart rate and body temperature. It also helps to improve flexibility and reduce muscle soreness.
The warm-up may include:
- Stretching exercises
- Range of motion activities
- Your exercise activity at a very low intensity (for example, walking at a very slow pace)
For the best effects on your muscles and cardiovascular system, your warm-up should last about five minutes.
This phase follows the warm-up and provides you with the benefits of exercise.
For the best results, remember these four important points in your Conditioning Phase:
- Frequency: how often you need to exercise-Exercise on most days of the week
- Intensity – how vigorous you need to exercise
- Moderate intensity – enough to get your heart rate and breathing to increase
- Duration – how long you need to exercise- 30 to 40 minutes of continuous exercise OR 10-minute increments to equal 30 to 40 minutes throughout the day.
If you haven’t exercised in a while, your heart, lungs, and muscles will need to work up to your exercise duration. Begin with shorter bouts of exercise, about 15 minutes or so, every other day. Progress by three to five-minute increments per week until you reach your goal of 30 to 40 minutes on most days.
- Type – the type of activity that will give you the desired results.
Exercise must involve the large muscle groups. You can vary your routine by engaging in more than one activity. A combination of walking, swimming, and cycling strengthens several muscle groups and will prevent you from becoming bored.
This last phase allows your body to recover from the conditioning phase. Heart rate and blood pressure will return to near resting values. Cool-down does not mean sit down! In fact, you should not stand still, sit or lie down right after exercise. This may cause you to feel dizzy, lightheaded or have palpitations.
- Slowly decrease the intensity of your activity
- Perform the stretching and range of motion exercises from your warm-up phase
- Like the warm-up phase, the cool-down should last about five minutes for the best results
Include all three phases in your exercise session to avoid injury and problems during exercise. Always consult a doctor before beginning any strenuous exercise program.
10 Heart Healthy Exercise Tips
Tips to help you start a heart healthy exercise plan.
- Aerobic exercises are done 30 minutes a day is excellent for increasing your heart rate. Climbing the stairs, a brisk walk, orbital exercise machine or treadmill, anything to get your heart rate up. Wii has several fun games such as Wii Sports or Wii Fit Step Aerobics – and its great exercise you can do with your kids. Make it a family affair
- Any moderate-intensity exercise like swimming, jogging, Pilates and yoga is good. Exercising your heart muscle means exercising your body. You don’t need a gym, just a bit of motivation and a good pair of walking shoes.
- If you “don’t have time” then fit shorter but more frequent periods of time, like 5-10 minutes several times a day throughout your day. Take the stairs, park your car further away from the door, and definitely count in those house chores such as mowing the lawn, vacuuming, or a short brisk walk around the block at lunch or for a break.
- If you already do a vigorous aerobic routine or enrolled in an exercise class, then three days a week for 20 minutes a day is good.
- For adults that are 65 and older or anyone with chronic conditions or limited mobility, you need the same amount of exercise as younger people – the activity can be less intense. Use good judgment and follow your doctor’s advice. See tip #1 and plan to gradually increase activities.
- Strength training is a great complement to aerobic training and helps to prevent age-related bone and muscle-mass losses. Keep in mind that strength training doesn’t increase heart rate but does increase stamina. Use it to target areas where muscle-tone is needed and don’t forget the other muscle groups.
- With any plan, start strength training slowly and build up to heavier weights and repetitions especially if you are new or out of shape. The old adage “no pain, no gain” is more often inappropriate and can be dangerous.
- Practice balance exercises to help prevent falls and injuries. Balance techniques are used frequently as exercises in yoga or more simple forms of balancing exercises such as walking heel-to-toe, standing on one foot, or standing up and sitting down without using your hands.
- Stretching exercises done twice a week helps keep flexibility, which is very important. Consider 10 minutes of stretching twice a week to improve your flexibility
- With any exercise program, it’s good to start slowly by warming up, then increasing the pace. A good cooling down afterward is also equally important. With any new exercise plan, check with your doctor if you are at risk and follow the advice of qualified professionals.
Heart Healthy Exercise Activities
Exercise Activities for Busy People
An exercise program should involve activities that get your heart thumping and your blood pumping. Exercise makes the heart beat faster and circulates blood quickly thru your body. Exercise helps to deliver the needed oxygen to your muscles.
A great exercise program should significantly increase this blood flow for extended periods of time, thus building your cardiovascular endurance and overall physical fitness. A good aerobic exercise regime may include activities such as walking, jogging, bicycling, aerobics, stair climbing, swimming, roller skating – basically any type of physical activity that is repetitive and challenges your heart, muscles, and circulatory system.
If you are one of those people with a busy schedule and unable to commit to an exercise program, you can count in these activities as part of your weekly exercise routine. Exercise is very important in keeping you fit and healthy.
Try These Easy Exercise Activities:
- If you have a dog, walking is a great exercise –do it daily and count it in. It’s good for you and your pet.
- Housework is nobody’s favorite activity but believe it or not, count this as exercise especially if you vacuum briskly or mop the floors on a regular basis
- If you have a family, schedule walks after dinner or before lunch and get some quality time in, too.
- Take a few minutes of your break-time to take a walk around the block or around the campus. Or if you go out to lunch, consider walking to a park or a sandwich shop a block or two further away rather than the cafeteria or the closest lunch stop.
- Believe it or not, yard work is a great way to get some exercise in. Mowing the lawn, raking leaves, clipping bushes and pulling weeds is a great way to move those muscles and get some great exercise in.
- Elevators and escalators at the office, school, and even the mall makes life convenient – but if you take just one flight of stairs instead of using this convenience, it’s definitely considered exercise – try it. Start with just one flight and soon you’ll be ready for more.
- If you ride the bus or subway, get off at one stop before or after your destination and walk the rest of the way – an easy way to fit a short jaunt into the schedule.
- Parking – we all want the front row but consider parking your car at the far end of the parking lot. A short walk here and there adds up, plus it can reduce the stress we sometimes feel when fighting for the front row spots