Prioritizing your heart function is the best thing you can do for your body’s health. In fact, regular cardio exercise is essential for maintaining heart health. Those who don’t exercise are twice as likely to develop heart disease. If you have a family history of heart disease or simply are worried for yourself, developing the right workout routine is key.
Running Heart Rate–The Basics
To specifically target heart health, you should gauge your heart rate during exercise. Generally, the more intensive the activity, the higher it will be. The average running heart rate for most people between ages 20 to 45 is 100 to 160 beats per minute. If you’re new to exercising, you’ll want to stay in the lower heart rate zones. Heart rate training for runners, on the other hand, can aim higher to accommodate for their experience. Most aerobic exercise, the best type for targeting heart function, falls in the second zone.
Now that you know a little more about how heart rate factors into exercise, let’s get into some heart healthy tips! We’ll cover some of the best exercises for heart health.
No matter what cardio workouts you go with, using interval training doing your routine is a fantastic way to strengthen your heart. Interval training is often used for not only heart health, but also weight loss, diabetes, and endurance training.
Here’s how the method works: combine short bursts of intense exercise with periods of lighter activity. For example, you could go back and forth between running and jogging while on the treadmill. Try walking three minutes at your normal speed, then running for about one minute to start with. By repeatedly increasing and lowering your running heart rate, this strategy improves vascular function.
When it comes to exercise, we all have to start somewhere, and daily walking is a great way to do it. While this may seem easy, walking is incredibly important. All you need to do this exercise is some running shoes. You can squeeze it in during a lunch break, at home, or before work in the morning. The accessibility of walking makes it a must for beginners. You can up your cardiac output by doing interval training, speed-walking, or carrying small weights along the way.
Ready to take that daily walk to the next level? Running is just as accessible and easy as walking, but it demands a bit more from your legs. Like other cardio exercises, running boosts circulation and your overall vascular health. Even running just 30 minutes daily a few times a week reduces LDL cholesterol, a contributing factor in heart disease.
If you can, avoid running on hard concrete pavement. It’s better if you can run in areas with a little more cushion for your feet, such as grass or a track. Your feet constantly pounding on the ground will eventually catch up to your body. To prevent cutting your run short from sore feet, try running in other areas. You could also invest a pair of cushioned sneakers to soften the blow.
Strength training does wonders for your heart when coupled with activities like walking, running, or cycling. Also called resistance training, this type of exercise burns fat and builds muscle. Combined with aerobics, strength training helps lower LDL cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart attack. We recommend doing strength training a couple times a week. Try using free weights and resistance bands to train for cardiovascular health.
What’s unique about yoga is that it engages both your body and mind. Yoga is all about embracing calm, and it’s proved time and time again to be an effective way to relax your brain. Emotional stress can be extremely harmful for heart health for several reasons. Stress releases hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which increases blood pressure and may narrow your arteries. Mindfulness exercises like yoga can help prevent this.
Bike riding is another popular way to improve cardiorespiratory health. Cycling is fun, low-impact, and easy. Non-impact sports are also great for your heart, but not everyone is gifted on the field or in the pool. Cycling is a fun and inclusive exercise method most people can do. At its best, cycling shouldn’t feel like exercise. It’s fun to whirr around the neighborhood or a forest trail on your bike! And since it’s an aerobic activity, it gives your heart, lungs, and blood vessels a good workout.
Yoga is a powerful form of stress relief and can also boost heart health in other ways. According to John Hopkins Medicine, a study found that blood measurements and waist circumference improved in people with metabolic syndrome who practiced yoga for several months.
Remember, the key to a strong heart is building a routine. These exercises are only effective if you make a habit of practicing them regularly. Curious about more ways to improve cardiovascular health? Read about everything exercise and fitness on Ninefit’s blog.