Exercise Your HEART
Read Time: 2 minutes 46 seconds
You may be familiar with the benefits that consistent exercise has on managing weight, blood pressure, stress, strength, and endurance. But did you know that consistent exercise can also help keep your heart healthy and lower your risk of heart disease? Just like the muscles of the body need regular exercise, so does our heart muscle. Exercise can keep our heart pumping efficiently, so it does not have to work too hard. Consistent physical activity can also help our arteries and blood vessels stay more flexible, which promotes proper circulation and more managed blood pressure.
The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise along with 2 or more days of strength training per week. While aerobic exercise is great for cardiovascular health, it is also important to include strength training into your routine for the most benefits. Even if you haven’t worked up to 150 minutes of exercise per week, incorporating even some light-intensity activity can help lower the risk of heart disease.
For a quick cardiovascular workout, use the exercises below in a circuit. Perform each exercise for 30 seconds, resting for 30 seconds before going on to the next one. Once you’ve completed a full circuit of all the exercises, repeat the circuit 2 or 3 times. Be sure that every repetition is done with proper form. It is always more important to use proper form than to speed up or add extra repetitions.
H – High Knees
With a brisk tempo, march in place while bringing your knees up to waist level with each march. For a lower impact variation, minimize bouncing by slowing your tempo down to a walk and holding each march for a second before switching legs.
E – Elbow Strikes
Start in a squat position with feet about a shoulder-width apart. Hold fists slightly below your chin. As you start to stand, rotate your torso slightly to the right while you throw a punch to the right. Your punch should lead with your left elbow and you should keep your arm bent during the punch. Return to a squat facing the center, and then repeat punch on the left side.
A – Agility Lunges
Start standing with feet together and arms at your sides. Lunge to the side with your right foot while reaching down towards your left toes with your right arm. Raise back up at the waist and briefly return to standing with feet together before lunging with your left leg and reaching down towards your right toes with your left arm. To briskly repeat this motion, you will find there will be a slight hop in between lunges. If you want to try a lower impact variation, slow down the exercise and come to a full standing motion for a second or two between each lunge motion.
R – Runner’s Skip
Bending down at the waist, lift your right leg behind you as you reach your right hand down towards your left toes. In one motion, swing your right leg up in front of you into a march position as you hop up with your left leg. The hop will be more like a skip. Return to standing and then repeat the same motion on the opposite side. For a lower impact version, step back into a lunge instead of holding your leg up behind you, then slowly swing and lift your leg in front instead of adding the skip.
T – Thrusters
Start with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Bend down from the knees and bring your hands down to the ground. Keep hands firm on the ground and jump your legs straight back and into a push-up position. Jump your knees back up into a tucked position while keeping your hands planted. Reach your arms up in the air as you return to a standing position. You can alter this into a lower impact exercise by stepping your legs back into a push-up position one at a time instead of hopping them back.
Always consult with your physician before starting a new exercise program.
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Written by BWS Lead Health Coach- Kelly Schlather, BS, ASCM – CEP