Your heart is a muscle, and like any other muscle in your body, it needs to be strengthened to function for life!
Heart healthy exercises are plentiful. The primary intent is to increase your heart rate, thus building up endurance. Exercise also helps to maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as a healthy weight. When any of these are out of sync, they can negatively impact the heart. Try to aim for at least 30 minutes a day of any of the following exercises, five days a week. Engaging in a combination of these exercises or switching them up will maximize results.
Swimming is one of the best exercises for anyone, especially for those who have arthritis or multiple sclerosis. It provides gentle resistance and makes use of various body parts. Like other cardio exercises, swimming allows you to change up the aerobic intensity as needed. It also has the added bonus of providing some strength training to your arms as you move through the water.
The beauty of walking is that just about anybody can do it, and, other than good walking shoes, no home equipment or gym membership is required! Start by walking at a gentle pace, which can be gradually increased. If your neighborhood has hills, consider adding in a few of those as you start to build up strength.
When inclement weather sets in, many people walk at indoor tracks or even at local malls. Consider joining a walking club in your neighborhood — the best part of walking is that it can be a social activity: if you’re distracted in conversation, the time will go by faster.
If you haven’t ridden a bike for a while, don’t worry — as the saying goes, “It’s just like riding a bike,” meaning, that your muscle memory will kick in and you will remember exactly how to pump those pedals. Biking not only gets you outdoors into the fresh air but it can be a tremendous heart-pumping activity, whether you choose to bike on a flat surface or up hills. Indoor bikes such as a spinner bike or a recumbent bike are also great options.
Strength and resistance training require you to work out your muscles, but that is heart-healthy, too. Lifting even light or moderate weights several times a week is good for your blood circulation and keeps blood pressure at optimal levels.
Yoga not only strengthens and stretches your muscles but the calming effects of yoga are beneficial for your blood pressure, cholesterol and for a reduction in stress and anxiety, all of which contribute to optimal heart health.