Your heart works hard, keeping a constant beat every minute of your life, so keeping it healthy with exercise is important. Even though the exercise needs of people differ, a few tips about heart-healthy workouts apply across the board. Regardless of your age of current fitness level, there are benefits to physical activity. Always check with your physician first if you have any existing cardiovascular or other condition before embarking on a fitness routine or making any changes to an existing one.
Effective heart-healthy exercise doesn't have to be intense or leave you panting for breath. Aerobic exercise, such as walking or jogging has both direct and indirect benefits for your heart. Your heart is a muscle, and when you exercise your heart beats harder to supply you with the oxygen and nutrients your muscles need. Habitual exercise strengthens your heart’s ability to pump blood efficiently. An indirect benefit, aerobic exercise also helps you control your blood pressure and your weight. Both chronic high blood pressure and obesity increase your risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Don't overdo it when you first get going with an exercise routine. As little as five minutes at a time makes a difference, and you can increase your efforts by small increments. Work heart-healthy exercise into your daily life by walking to lunch, taking the stairs instead of the elevator and taking the pet out for a walk after dinner rather than collapsing in front of the television. When you feel fitter, you can increase the length and intensity of your exercise routines.
You can use a simple technique to assess the intensity of your workouts. During moderate aerobic exercise, you should breathe deeper and perhaps break a sweat, but still be able to talk without gasping for air. As your fitness level increases, so will your tolerance to increased effort. Once you are comfortable with brisk walking, you can assess how intense your workout is by measuring your heart rate. Keeping your heart rate between 50 and 75 percent of your age group’s maximum assures you of an efficient cardiovascular workout.
To determine your maximum heart rate, start with 220 and then subtract your age. At 40 years of age, your maximum heart rate would be 220 minus 40, or 180. Your target rate is 50 -to-75 percent of your maximum heart rate. So, for a healthy 40 year old, your target rate would be between 90 and 135 beats per minute. Certain medications can affect your heart rate; so always check with your doctor before pushing yourself to elevate your heart rate during workouts.
Exercise can also improve your mental health by elevating your mood and encouraging healthier eating habits. Aerobic exercise can also help relieve some symptoms of depression and anxiety. Mental illness can negatively impact your heart health, so a healthy mind can translate into better heart health.
Keep your interest up by involving your friends in your fitness routine, or join an exercise group. You might enjoy keeping an exercise diary to keep track of your progress over the weeks and months gone by.