Keeping Your Heart in Shape – Part 2
As we continue the topic of Heart Awareness for the month of February, we revisit an important topic: Exercise.
It seems like no matter the topic we cover here, staying healthy always includes a proper diet and exercise. Both of which draw the most excuses.
Here are some tips to help encourage you to include exercise as part of your daily routine to improve your mental and physical health:
Physical activity boosts mental wellness. Regular physical activity can relieve tension, anxiety, depression and anger. You may not only notice a “feel good sensation” immediately following your physical activity, but most people also note an improvement in general well-being over time during the weeks and months as physical activity becomes a part of their routine.
30 minutes at least 5 days a week. You can even divide it into three 10-minute periods of activity daily which is just as beneficial to your overall fitness as one 30-minute session.
Becoming more active can help lower your blood pressure and also boost your levels of good cholesterol.
30 minutes of daily exercise such as brisk walking improves blood circulation, which reduces the risk of heart disease and —
- Keeps weight under control
- Helps in the battle to quit smoking
- Prevents bone loss
- Promotes enthusiasm and optimism
- Counters anxiety and depression
- Helps you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly
- Improves self-image
- Increases muscle strength, increasing the ability to do other physical activities
- Provides a way to share an activity with family and friends
- Reduces risk of developing heart disease by 30-40%
- Reduced risk of stroke by 20% in moderately active people and by 27% in those who are highly active
- Establishes good heart-healthy habits in children and counters the conditions (obesity, high blood pressure, poor cholesterol levels, poor lifestyle habits, etc.) that lead to heart attack and stroke later in life
- Helps delay or prevent chronic illnesses and diseases associated with aging and maintains quality of life and independence longer for seniors
So why not see for yourself? Once you get over the inertia and find creative ways to fit physical activity into your life, we think you’ll agree that the effort to get moving is worth it!
Without regular physical activity, the body slowly loses its strength, stamina and ability to function well. People who are physically active and at a healthy weight live about 7 years longer than those who are not active and are obese.
Walking is safe for most people, but check with your healthcare provider if you’ve experienced chest pain in the past month or have a chronic condition. Cardiac patients should definitely consult a healthcare provider before heading out in the cold, since exerting yourself in the cold weather does put an added strain on your heart.
If walking isn’t your speed you may enjoy Circuit training.
Circuit exercise is a cycle of 5-6 exercises that you run through a few times. It’s a great way to alleviate boredom and get a lot done in a short amount of time.
You can create your own mini-circuits at home. Ideally, your circuit will include a cardio burst of 1–2 minutes, followed by 3–5 exercises that work various parts of your body.
- Jump rope, jog in place or run your steps (start with 1 minute and progress to 2)
- 10 push-ups (You can modify with knees down if you are having trouble holding a straight body push-up position)
- 20 crunches (with feet flat and knees up, legs bent in the air at 90 degrees or straight up, or your favorite variation)
- 20 hip lifts (flat on your back, arms down on the ground at your sides with fingertips pointing toward feet, feet flat with knees bent at 90 degrees; press feet and shoulders into floor as you lift your hips as high as you can; lift and lower)
- 30-second plank hold (holding a push-up position; body as a straight line, or with knees down)
- 10 triceps dips on a chair/couch (Sit on chair with feet flat and knees bent at 90 degrees; hands at sides, palms pressed into the chair with fingertips facing forward; take one large step with right foot, and join left foot beside it. Bend your arms to 90 degrees as you lower and lift; keeps abs tight.)
Too much sitting and other sedentary activities can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. One study showed that adults who watch more than 4 hours of television a day had a 46% increased risk of death from any cause and an 80% increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease. So, get off the couch and get moving today!