Part Five in the continuing series on Heart Health
Exercise and Your Heart
Whether you are younger or older, exercise will effect our bodies, including our heart. Regular exercise can keep your heart strong and pumping. Exercise of all types and intensities are beneficial to your heart.
Why is everyone so afraid of exercise? Just the mention makes people tense up as if they are accepting a mission to run a 5K race the very next day. Exercise can be your best friend and your heart’s friend if you let it and it does not have to be painful and cause you to sweat excessively to be effective.
Calm Down to Gear Up
Let’s set the record straight once and for all. Exercise is another word for physical activity. Physical activity can be any activity that gets your heart pumping on a regular basis.
Whether you are young and trying to be proactive or your doctor has recommended exercise in your life, start off slow. This point can’t be stressed enough. Jumping in, both feet first, may have you nursing stress fractures and sore muscles a week later. That is the quickest way to get discouraged and quit altogether.
Instead, pick an activity that you like. Let’s say that it’s gardening. Gardening looks tame but it is a very good physical activity. Digging holes, pulling weeds, hoeing, raking and planting take good upper and lower body strength. You will feel it right away after a full day of doing these activities!
To help your muscles grow strong, concentrate on the muscle group being worked at the time. For example, if you are digging holes to plant trees, squeeze your abdominal muscles as well as your shoulder and bicep muscles as you plunge the shovel into the ground. Bend your legs to a squat position as you lift the dirt out so that they do all the work.
The point is that everyday activities can be turned into exercise. Think about how often you walk up and down the stairs. Use that time to work your glutes (bum muscles). You've heard it said many times, park farther away from your destination to walk further. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk instead of driving when possible.
What about walking? It is the best overall exercise. You can start off slowly, walking alone or with a friend. As you get comfortable with walking a mile or so around your neighborhood, begin to mix it up. Walk farther or farther and faster. As you get used to the new routine, change it again. Walk backwards uphill. This will work muscles such as your upper and lower leg muscles as well as your glutes. Changing your direction can give you a different view on more than just your body!
So, you see, exercising doesn’t necessarily mean joining a gym or the local running club (unless you want to). Those who start slow and build to more rigorous exercise are more likely to stick to it because they are conditioning their bodies in the process.
Exercise does wonders for your heart:
• Increases lung capacity
• Lowers blood pressure
• Causes your heart to beat more efficiently in response to increased endurance
• Increases metabolism
• Reduces stress
With all of these pluses, why aren’t you moving yet? Find what you like to do and do it. Continually challenge yourself as your body responds to increase heart health and overall health in general.
What are you going to do to get moving? What will you do for your heart? What can you suggest for others?