Exercise for a Healthy Heart

Family BikesThe Heart Foundation states that heart disease is the number one cause of death for both women and men in the United States. A person who exercises often and vigorously has the lowest risk for heart disease, but any amount of exercise is beneficial. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association losing 10% of excess body weight can dramatically lower the risk for heart disease. Studies consistently find that light-to-moderate exercise is even beneficial in people with existing heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends that individuals perform moderately-intense exercise for at least 30 minutes per day, five days per week. This recommendation can significantly lower your heart disease risks and is supported by similar exercise guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American College of Sports Medicine.

Regular exercise is beneficial for anyone. One of the best types of exercise for the heart is aerobic exercise. Besides the fact that aerobic exercise aides in weight loss and maintenance, the American Heart Association also adds that aerobic exercise helps lower blood pressure and controls blood sugar in individuals with coronary artery disease. Additionally aerobic exercise strengthens the heart, which in turn means that the heart doesn’t need to beat as fast; it pumps blood more efficiently and improves blood flow to all parts of the body.

There are numerous ways to safely and effectively get aerobic exercise. A few examples are jogging, walking, biking, or swimming. The easiest and most readily available exercise is walking. It can be as simple as adding extra steps from your day to day activity. Parking your car farther, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, going for a walk around the neighborhood or even taking that extra lap around the mall. In addition to aerobic exercise, adding strengthening and stretching exercises to your routine can help build and improve overall stamina and flexibility. By performing a well-balanced workout you will set yourself on track for a healthier heart and healthier future.

Here is a heart healthy workout anyone can do, all you need is access to a track or a treadmill!

For beginners: Run the straight away of the track and walk the turns for 1 mile. Between lap one and lap two, do 10-15 push ups with hands on a bench feet on the ground. Between lap two and lap three do a 1 minute plank hold. After lap three repeat the bench push ups and after lap four repeat the plank hold.

For regular exercisers: Sprint the straight away of the track and walk the turns for 1-2 miles. Between lap one and lap two, do 15-20 push ups (modify as needed). Between lap two and lap three do a 1 minute plank hold, try lifting one hand or foot off the ground to challenge your core strength and balance. After lap three repeat the push ups and after lap four repeat the plank hold.

If you’re new to exercising, remember to listen to your body. This workout should be hard, but it should not cause any joint pain. If you have a medical condition or chronic disease, get cleared by a doctor before performing any exercise routine.


Heart Disease Facts, The Heart Foundation.
American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults, American Heart Association.
Torpy, J.M. & Burke, A.E. (2009). Coronary Heart Disease Risk Factors. Journal of the American Medical Association.

About the Author:

Raised in the South Bay, Raeciel DeCastro earned her B.S. in Kinesiology from San Jose State University. As a program manager she enjoys helping others achieve their health and wellness goals. She is an avid volleyball player and participates in local adult leagues and tournaments from Sacramento to Las Vegas. Outside of her hobbies she enjoys spending time with friends and her furry friend Zara.

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