Stretching Out
Image by Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums via Flickr

Although aerobic exercise can include bicycling, swimming, jogging, and aerobic classes, walking may be one of the best activities. That’s because you can do it anywhere, and you need little equipment outside of a good pair of shoes.

Numerous studies have found that walking offers tremendous cardiac benefits. It helps people improve their fitness levels and endurance capacity, and it burns calories to aid in weight loss. Walking can lower your blood pressure, improve your cholesterol levels and your body’s ability to handle glucose or sugar, and reduce your risk of diabetes.

Aim to do 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise at least five days a week, or 20 minutes of vigorous activity three times a week. Moderate-intensity exercise is seen as the equivalent of a brisk walk, as if you have someplace to go, while vigorous exercise is even faster walking. If you’re starting an exercise program, just avoid doing vigorous activity until you’ve been exercising for a few months. The same goes for people with existing heart problems: Unless you have your doctor’s  or nurses okay, stick with moderate-intensity regimes.

If 30 minutes sounds too daunting at first, you can get the same benefits by doing three 10-minute bouts each day. For instance, maybe you walk your dog for 10 minutes in the morning, take a 10-minute stroll at lunch, and walk for another 10 minutes after dinner.

Strength Training for Heart Health

Strength training will not replace aerobic exercise but compliments and  boosts muscular strength and endurance; helps your body handle blood sugars; reduces blood pressure; and increases lean body mass, which can help prevent weight gain. Because you’re losing lean body mass, which burns more calories than fat, you gain weight. However, when you do strength training, you maintain lean body mass and prevent weight gain.

Do strength training for your entire body twice a week, completing one set of eight to 12 repetitions for each muscle group. As you progress, increase to two or three sets. If you’re not sure where to start, work with a certified personal trainer for one or two sessions,  or buy an instructional DVD or book. If the Gym is a local council run gym they are certified to help you make decisions, even better apply to join a Healthy Lifetsyle Team monitored event.

Pair your strength training and aerobic activities with a heart-friendly diet and you’ll be well on your way to building a stronger, healthier heart.

Always consult your Doctor or Heart Failure Nurse if you are doing strength training and if you have been sedentary for awhile, check with your Doctor or Heart Failure Nurse before starting any exercise regime.

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