Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Exercise for Heart Health

Exercise for Heart Health

Maybe you know this already, but, maybe you don't.

I often pass along information that is credible and well-written. Reprinted from Pacific Medical Training, a company that provides medical training, courses, and resources.  This article, along with a list of over a dozen links to other great articles can be found at Pacific Medical Training.

In the United States, heart disease is a major problem for both men and women. It is, according to the CDC, the leading cause of death in this country. It can affect people of all ages and nationalities. People can take measures to protect themselves from heart disease starting in their childhood and into adulthood. The most important measure is to live a healthy lifestyle that includes not only eating healthy, but also exercising routinely. People can incorporate exercise into their lives at any stage, but should speak with a physician if they are unaccustomed to doing so or if they suffer from illness.

Benefits of Exercise for Heart Health

One of the most important things that a person can do to improve his or her heart and reduce the risk of heart disease is to get active and start exercising. When a person exercises, he or she is automatically removing one of the main risks of developing heart problems, as a sedentary lifestyle is counted as one of the five primary risk factors. As a result, when a person exercises regularly, the benefits are many. Often these benefits are best obtained when paired with lifestyle changes. For example, when paired with a healthy diet, weight loss can occur. With weight loss, blood pressure is often reduced. This is a positive benefit as high blood pressure contributes greatly to heart disease. Bad cholesterol levels are decreased with regular exercise as well.

  • Good cholesterol levels are increased with regular exercise.
  • Exercise often improves the body's ability to properly control blood glucose levels.
  • With regular exercise, the body is better able to both take in oxygen and use it. This improves a person's ability to perform regular activities with less fatigue.

Cardiovascular Exercises

In physical fitness, "cardio" is a commonly used term. People often use this word when talking about aerobic exercises and it is a shortened version of cardiovascular exercise. Cardio or cardiovascular exercises are those that work out the heart and lungs and thereby cause an increase in one's heart rate and respiration. When performing this type of exercise, movements are often steady and rhythmic in nature. In addition, cardio exercises can result in positive changes that are beneficial to reducing the risk of heart disease, such as weight loss and reduced blood pressure. To reap the benefits of this form of exercise, medical and fitness professionals recommend performing them between 3 to 5 days of the week for 25 to 30 minutes, depending on the intensity of the workout. 

There are many types of cardiovascular exercises that a person can perform, both indoors and outdoors.

  • Swimming
  • Running outdoors or on a treadmill indoors
  • Jogging
  • Circuit Training
  • Cycling
  • Jump Rope

Strengthening Exercises

Another form of exercise is strengthening – or resistance – exercise. While cardio works out the lungs and heart, strengthening exercises work out the muscles. By doing so there is an improvement in strength and metabolism. This is important for individuals who are attempting to prevent heart disease as it aids in losing weight and improves stamina. Strong muscles and good stamina are crucial to carrying out tasks both large and small; and that includes exercising. The muscle strengthening activities that a person performs should follow the American Heart Association's guidelines in terms of how often they are performed. This means strengthening exercises should be performed no less than twice weekly.

  • Weight machines at fitness centers
  • Weight lifting using dumbbells or heavy household items
  • Resistance Bands or tubes
  • Yoga can be a form of weight training as it uses one's own body weight.

What to Include in an Exercise Program

Having an exercise program will help people get the most out of their workout. When creating an exercise program, one must include not only the exercise portion of working out, but also other important steps that can help prevent injury. Injuries occur when the body is not sufficiently prepared before the exercise of choice has started. These steps include warming up and cooling down and stretching. Another important thing to include in the workout plan is water for hydration.

  • Warm-ups occur before the actual exercise, or conditioning, begins. It involves as little as 5 minutes to as many as 10 minutes of light intensity cardiovascular or resistance activities.
  • Warming up gradually increases blood flow to the muscles and decrease the amount of stress on the heart,
  • Cool-downs take place after the exercise is complete.
  • Cooling-down safely and slowly brings the heart rate down.
  • As with the warm-up, 5 to 10 minutes of stretching should be performed.
  • Stretching should take place after the warm-up and again after the cool-down.
  • Muscle soreness is reduced by stretching.
  • Performance is improved by stretching.

This material can also be found in Chapter 7, "All About the Details" of Living 365fitt, A 12-Week Program to Lifestyle Wellness, available at www.365fitt.com.  365fitt has Weekly and Monthly Activity Planners to help in your journey to lifetime fitness.  Individuals may also seek out 365fitt 10-Minute Workouts, with workout plans and suggested exercises, also available at www.365fitt.com.


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  2. Thought I'd leave a link to some exercise-demo videos for anybody interested.


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