Physical activity is one of the most effective ways to reduce your risk of a heart attack or other cardiovascular problems. It's an important part of living a heart-healthy lifestyle.
A sedentary lifestyle raises your risk of heart problems. However, incorporating physical activity into your daily routine is never too early or too late. Read on to know how exercise can help in maintaining heart health and some exercises to prevent heart attack.
Benefits of Regular Exercise
Regular exercise offers a plethora of advantages, including:
- Lowering blood pressure
- Reducing the risk of having diabetes
- Maintaining a healthy body weight
- Decreasing inflammation in the body
One of the key benefits of exercise is its ability to help control or modify many risk factors associated with heart disease. Studies show that people who exercise often are less likely to start or opt for bad habits, like smoking, which is a major cause of heart attacks.
Exercise further benefits the heart by:
- Improving the ability of the muscles to take oxygen from the blood
- Balancing the demand for the heart to pump more blood to the muscles
- Reducing stress hormones that can put additional strain on the heart
- Similar to a beta blocker, it slows the heart rate and lowers blood pressure
- Increasing HDL and controlling triglycerides
Studies have shown that people who exercise regularly are less likely to experience sudden heart attacks or other life-threatening cardiac events.
Now that you know exercise can benefit your heart, let's explore the 10 best exercises to prevent a heart attack.
- Cycling: Cycling is a good, low-impact exercise that people of all ages can do. It is a type of aerobic exercise that makes your blood vessels, lungs, and heart work effectively. You will breathe deeper, sweat more, and have a higher body temperature, boosting your overall fitness. Instead of driving, consider riding for short distances to get your heart pumping.
- Swimming: Swimming is a full-body workout that enhances cardiovascular health, muscle strength, and endurance. Swimming for 30 minutes daily can lower the chance of heart disease in women by 30-40 per cent. It also helps lower blood pressure and increase good cholesterol (HDL) levels. Swimming also keeps the cells lining your arteries (vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood) functional and healthy.
- Strength Training: Strength training, often known as weight or resistance training, is an exercise that aims to improve muscle strength and fitness. It involves working out a particular muscle or group of muscles against an external resistance, which can be in the form of free weights, weight machines, or simply your body weight. Strength training boosts lean muscle mass and improves blood circulation. This lowers the strain on your arteries, reduces the risk of heart-related issues, and prevents heart attack. Along with aerobic exercises, include strength training in your routine. Just 30 minutes of strength training twice a week can be very beneficial.
- Resistance Band Exercises: Resistance bands are elastic bands that come in various sizes, and you can use them to work out all parts of your body. They are especially beneficial for individuals with limited mobility since many exercises can be performed while sitting. Resistance training with bands for your upper body can lower the risk of heart disease, especially in women. Start with bands that match your fitness level.
- Pilates: Pilates is a full-body workout that enhances muscle tone, flexibility, and strength. Pilates' relaxing effects help to lower blood pressure, which is important for heart health. Furthermore, targeted breathing in Pilates helps improve circulation, which is necessary for good heart function.
- Circuit Training: Circuit training is a workout technique in which you perform a series of exercises in a sequence with minimal rest, typically using various pieces of equipment. It's an effective way to elevate your heart rate and put your cardiovascular system to the test, which is great for your lung capacity and heart health.
- Stretching: Stretching is positioning a body part in a certain posture to elongate and improve the flexibility and elasticity of muscles or muscle groups. While flexibility exercises like stretching don't directly impact heart health, they are essential for musculoskeletal well-being. They help you maintain flexibility and prevent joint pain, cramps, and other muscle-related problems. After your workout, take time to stretch your muscles. This helps normalizing your heart rate and improves flexibility.
- Yoga: Like other forms of exercise, yoga can boost your metabolism and improve your cholesterol and blood sugar levels. It can help lower blood pressure by relaxing the arteries. Yoga positions and breathing techniques improve heart health, muscular tone, and stress relief.
- Interval Training: High-intensity interval training (HIIT) includes short bursts of vigorous exercise and brief rest periods. It can be an effective method of increasing cardiovascular fitness. Interval training improves heart health by strengthening the heart muscles and lowering blood pressure.
- Household Chores: You don't need a gym to stay active. Household chores like cleaning, dusting, or gardening can also help you maintain a healthy heart.
How Often and How Long to Exercise?
The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous weekly exercise. You can divide it into shorter sessions. For example, you can do 30 minutes of cardio five days a week or 50 minutes of cardio three days a week, along with 35-40 minutes of strength training or stretching exercises.
Choose activities you enjoy and gradually increase the intensity as you progress your fitness journey.
While exercise provides its own advantages, the most effective way to prevent heart disease is by combining exercise with a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. If you're starting any exercise to prevent a heart attack, make sure to consult your doctor first, especially if you have any underlying conditions. Stay active, stay healthy!