Staying physically active is an important part of being healthy; regular physical activity helps prevent conditions such as heart disease or stroke. But with so many different kinds of exercises and fad programs out there, it might be hard to tell which workout method is best for you. Here are some of the best exercises to help you keep a healthy heart, and why they work so well.
Aerobic exercises are the best for your overall heart and cardiovascular health; most are just simply referred to as “cardio.” The word aerobic literally means “involving oxygen,” referring to the fact that all cardio exercise uses the oxygen in your body to meet the energy demands during your chosen activity. So long as you breathe deeply and steadily, aerobic exercises can be maintained for an extended period of time, allowing you to increase the duration and intensity of your workout as you see fit.
Work Harder, Not Longer
Research in recent years has shown that, even during aerobic exercise, it might be more beneficial to work harder instead of longer. Renee Diamond, M.D., family physician, wife and busy mother of two comments “high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a great way to get the cardiovascular benefits from exercise in less time. HIIT can be applied to any form of cardio. Choose something you enjoy and start with one-minute up-tempo followed by a one-minute recovery. Instead of working out longer, increase the intensity of your intervals as your fitness levels improves. Life is busy; it's great that the cardiovascular benefits of exercise (reduced heart disease and stroke) don't require as much time as we once thought!”
See What Works Best
High-intensity exercising can prove difficult for some, especially if you've just started working out. It's important to find a balance to see what works best for you. The American Heart Association recommends:
At least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week for a total of 150 minutes
At least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week for a total of 75 minutes; or a combination of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as walking, and vigorous, such as jogging or running
Moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days per week for additional health benefits
Of course, your choice of activity will also factor into how long and intense you choose to make your exercise. Good cardiovascular exercises include:
If you struggle with motivation or sticking to a consistent routine, consider joining a gym, group fitness class or a group of friends for regularly scheduled cardio. Exercising as a group or with friends is a great way to maintain accountability and motivation. Experiment with different activities and routines until you find what works best for you!
About Iowa Specialty Hospital Cardiopulmonary Department
The Iowa Specialty Hospital Cardiopulmonary Department is dedicated to providing Iowa residents with specialized patient care for all their cardiopulmonary needs. Our cardiopulmonary team can help you understand and manage your health problems so you can live a longer, more productive life. Contact or visit one of our locations today for more information.