The heart is the most critical organ of the human body. And strengthening the heart is one of the best things to ensure you are healthy and fit. The heart gets stronger and healthier if one leads an active life. The most efficient form of powering the heart is to exercise daily, at least for 30 minutes.
As per research, people who do not exercise are twice more likely to get heart diseases than the ones who engage in regular exercising. Regular exercises, especially the ones directed at the heart’s health can help to:
- Burn excess calories
- Lower the blood pressure
- Reduce LDL or bad cholesterol
- Boost the HDL or good cholesterol
However, not all types of exercises are beneficial for the heart. Here are the top 10 exercises to strengthen the heart and stay fit.
Walking: Even though considered too mainstream, walking, and especially brisk walking has shown results in improving the condition of the heart. Walking fast pushes the heart rate up, as well as it is easier on the joints than many other types of exercises. Walking also positively impacts cardiac risk factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, vascular stiffness and inflammation. Moreover, it also helps the body relieve some mental stress and keep the heart-healthy. This easy form of exercise can be done anywhere and at anytime. However, one must remember to walk with supportive shoes.
Aerobic exercises: Aerobic exercises such as running and biking are some exercises which can help improve the health of the heart. These activities raise the heartbeat of a person, causing them to breathe harder, thereby providing strength to the heart muscles. However, one should not be too hard on them and take it slow initially. Moreover, if running or jogging is taxing one’s joints, other forms of low-impact aerobic exercises can be adopted.
Weight training: As per a study, lifting weights for less than an hour help can reduce the chances of a heart attack and stroke by 40-70 per cent. Also known as resistance or strength training, this form of exercise uses the resistance to muscular contraction to build the strength, endurance and size of skeletal muscles. This form also increases bone density, lean muscle mass, as well as heightens the body’s insulin sensitivity. All this helps to keep heart risk factors at bay and help maintain a healthy weight. The most useful form of weight training is by using one’s body weight.
Swimming: Swimming is also a type of aerobic exercise whichstrengthens the heart by causing it to become larger; thus, making it more efficient in pumping blood and ultimately result in better blood flow throughout the body. As per research, 30-40 minutes of swimming can reduce the risk of coronary heart issues in women by almost 30-40 per cent. Swimming is also easy on the joints and allows you to carry on without any pain.
Yoga: Apart from relieving the body of stress, which is a big risk for heart disease, yoga also helps to lower blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood glucose levels. This also helps improve the heart rate, while ultimately controlling all triggers of heart disease. Several forms of yoga help to strengthen and tone the muscles of the heart while keeping up the heart rate. Practising an hour of Yoga every day is very helpful for the heart, the mind, as well as the soul.
Interval training: Interval training includes short bursts of high-intensity exercises with longer periods of active recovery.It forces the heart to alternate between working hard and recovering, which ultimately contributes to heart health. Multiple rounds of interval training make the heart more efficient.It helps to burn calories, as well as improves the function of the blood vessels simultaneously.
Cycling: Indulging in regular cycling can help improve heart health since cycling strengthens and improves the heart functioning, lungs and circulation, as well as reduces the overall risk of cardiovascular diseases. Regular 30 minutes of cycling helps to strengthen the heart muscles, lowers resting pulse rate and reduce the overall fat levels in the body.
Jog-in-a-place: Jogging in a stationary position by lifting the arms an inch or two above the ground and hopping from foot to foot while engaging the arms – is a great cardio workout. This simple and easily accessible form pushes the heart rate up and is also a great warm-up exercise for other intense cardio workouts. Undertaking 30-60 seconds of jogging in a place can work wonders for the heart and also promote weight loss. It is best combined with other cardio exercises such as lunges, pushups, squats, etc.
Staircases: Climbing the stairs might seem like an everyday task but is a great form of cardio exercise. It also helps build the overall body strength of a person.For staircases which are more than six stairs long, 1-2 laps combined with other cardio exercises such as jumping rope, jogging in a place, jumping jacks, etc. can be taken up. Moreover, in another form, a step from the staircase can be used for push-ups, lunges, dips, step-ups, squats and other forms of workouts.
Jumping Jacks: Jumping jack involves jumping with feet wide open, while simultaneously raising the arms over the head and then back again. This form of cardio exercise helps to immediately burn 100 calories in 10 minutes.It does not requireany special equipment or exercise tool and can be performed with a simple pair of shoes and a healthy heart. However, these may strain the joints and hence, should be taken up only if these do not cause any pain or discomfort. Combining 30-60 seconds of jumping jacks with other cardio exercises such as squats, pushups, dips etc. for 10-30 seconds each is very helpful.
Overall, these exercises are very effective in strengthening the heart, reducing heart problem triggers and maintaining an overall healthy weight.