Get a stronger heart with these 5 heart-friendly workouts

by Barbara R. Abercrombie
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Exercise is an important habit to learn because it has many benefits that help us live long and healthy lives. Your heart health, in particular, should not be neglected. Research has shown that staying active is an effective way to keep your heart strong and lower your chances of developing heart disease. You can do many exercises to stay active, but it’s also important to include workouts that benefit your heart.

Exercises like yoga and walking can keep your heart working at its best. With the help of experts, we’ll discuss the different activities you should do to keep your heart strong and healthy. Whether you like high-intensity exercises or less-intensity movements, such as swimming, you can reap the benefits of all the following activities.

Why exercise is important for your heart

Be sure to track your heart rate through your activities.

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Exercise, in general, is beneficial for cardiovascular health. For example, it makes you less likely to have heart problems as you get older. It helps lower your blood pressure, increases your high-density lipoprotein (or good cholesterol), reduces stress, and improves your heart’s ability to pump more blood into your muscles by efficiently transporting oxygen. It also has indirect benefits.

“Exercise can also help control cardiovascular risk factors such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and obesity,” says Dr. Lance LaMotte, interventional cardiologist, Fellow of the American College of Cardiology, and owner of Title Boxing Club in Baton Rouge, LA.

On the other hand, staying active as you get older is also important, as inactivity is linked to a higher chance of developing heart disease. It also increases your chances of a major cardiovascular event. LaMotte said, “Studies have shown a reduced risk of heart attack and stroke by maintaining or increasing activity with age.” In addition to keeping your heart healthy, LaMotte added that exercise can also improve your cognition and memory as you age.

Which Exercises Are Best For Your Heart?

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Any exercise that raises your heart rate is beneficial for your heart health, said Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventive cardiologist and member of Peloton’s Health & Wellness Advisory Council: “I’ve always said that exercise is the best medication and prevention for heart disease and a healthier, happier life.” LaMotte added that “almost any form of regular exercise can provide tremendous cardiovascular benefits, whether traditional cardio such as walking, running, cycling, swimming, high-intensity interval training, resistance training, or full-body workouts, such as boxing.”

While all exercises offer heart health benefits, some workouts stand out as ideal for keeping your heart strong. These exercises make your heart beat faster and offer various options to prevent overuse injuries and train different muscles. Here’s an overview of five of the best exercises for heart health.

Interval training

A good rule of thumb for interval training is to keep the exercises short and intense, followed by a rest period of the same length or more lacking in between. Interval training is a good option if you’re short on time and want to work up a sweat quickly. Studies suggest that HIIT-style or high-intensity interval training improves both your lung and heart health, as well as your heart’s response to exercise. In addition, you can download workout apps and programs that focus on this type of workout if you’re unsure where to start.

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Lifting weights may be slower, but it’s also a good way to get your heart rate up and improve the strength of your heart. One study found that lifting weights can reduce your chance of having a stroke or heart attack by about 40% to 70%. Depending on your goals, it’s helpful to contact a personal trainer who can teach you the right techniques and create a custom training program for you.

to walk

Walking is just as beneficial as running but it is gentler on the body. It’s easy to do anywhere, and you can reap even more benefits by picking up the pace. “Walking is a low-intensity workout that’s proven to benefit your heart, especially if you’re walking briskly and pumping your arms,” ​​Steinbaum said. Research suggests brisk walking can further improve your cardiovascular health compared to slow walking. Other ways to make your walks more challenging include walking with some weights in hand, adding half a mile each time you walk, or adding bodyweight exercises now and then.

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Yoga is known to lower blood pressure, improve flexibility and balance, and help reduce any aches and pains. Yoga can be done in the comfort of your home – all you need is a yoga mat and a small amount of elbow room.


Swimming is a low-impact, full-body workout that’s gentle on the joints yet packs some cardio punch. Swimming keeps your lungs and heart strong and even helps lower your blood pressure. It’s a great aerobic option if you’re recovering from injury or your body doesn’t respond well to strenuous exercise.

Where do you start?

Before embarking on a new exercise program, it is important to discuss it with your doctor, especially if you have a history of health problems or a family history of heart problems. LaMotte said, “if cardiovascular risk factors are present, it is advisable to obtain prior approval from a physician.” Steinbaum agreed, saying, “Checking your blood pressure, cholesterol panel, hemoglobin A1C (sugars), and inflammatory markers, among other indicators, are vital sources of information to help determine risk levels for higher-intensity exercise.” However, if you are generally healthy, use common sense when taking a new workout and stay within your limits.

If you’re starting your training journey, it’s important to ensure you don’t do too much too soon. LaMotte recommended that you start slowly to achieve consistency and set reasonable goals. For example, suppose you’re new to running. In that case, it’s best to focus on covering a certain distance at a comfortable pace rather than increasing the intensity and covering the space simultaneously.

“Studies have shown that activities that bring your heart rate into the moderate-intensity heart rate zone are the best option for optimal cardiovascular benefit,” Steinbaum advised. A good rule of thumb is to follow the recommendations of the American Heart Association. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week, or a combination of both per week. In addition, you should include resistance training at least two days a week.””

The best way to do this is to explore and find an activity you enjoy and know you will be consistent in. Some people may find it helpful to have an exercise buddy or small group of friends to hold them accountable. “It’s also important to be in tune with body feedback to reduce injury,” cautioned LaMotte, adding that hydration and rest days are also important to minimize the risk of injury and fatigue.

In addition, it is important to balance healthy exercise for the heart with a healthy diet. “I always tell my patients that they can’t beat a bad diet,” advised LaMotte. “A diet low in saturated fat, refined sugars, and sodium can help control or lower blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels.”

If you have a family history of heart disease, it’s important to have your numbers checked for blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugars at age 20. “If a woman has a history of pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, or high blood pressure, her heart should be checked,” Steinbaum said. For other individuals, she said, “knowing your numbers” and having an annual wellness visit is part of living a healthy life for the heart.

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified healthcare professional if you have any questions about a medical condition or health goals.

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