The heart is such an important organ in our body that only a few minutes of inactivity of this organ may lead to death. A healthy heart is key to avoid sudden death due to cardiac arrest. A healthy heart also ensures the proper functioning of other organs in our body. Oxygen and other nutrients are carried to each cell through the bloodstream, and the heart is essentially the pump behind the flow. Malfunction of the pump means poor supply of oxygen and other nutrients.
Chest pain, Shortness of breath, dizziness, fatigue, swelling of the legs, ankles, and feet, etc. are symptoms of poor heart health. But there are some other consequences also. Heart disease may lead to kidney disease. It can also be a cause of erectile dysfunction among men.
Usually, heart disease doesn’t have any symptoms. Symptoms are shown only when heart and blood vessels are badly damaged. Healthy diet, controlling high blood pressure, etc. are advised to ensure heart health. But at the same time exercises are advised, and it should be started from an early age.
Young men working hard to build muscle already know well that exercise makes muscles stronger and builds new muscles. The heart is also a muscle that is continuously pumping blood.
Effects of exercise on heart
Our muscles on the arm, leg, chest, hip, and other parts of the body work more during the exercise. That leads to extra demand for energy, which is translated to extra demand for oxygen from muscles. As a result, our heart starts to pump more blood to muscles so that muscles may get more oxygen. In simple words, when we force our external muscles to work harder that lead to our heart muscle to work harder and that is an exercise for our heart. Our heart rate increases, blood pressure increases, all of these strengthen our heart.
Three types of exercises
Aerobic exercise, resistance training, and stretching, these three types of exercise will help to improve heart health. Stretch doesn’t directly linked to heart health, but it makes you fit for aerobic exercise and resistance training, which improves heart health.
What is aerobic exercise?
Aerobic means ‘needing oxygen’. Aerobic exercises (also known as cardio) increase oxygen demand, so lungs take more air than usual to meet the oxygen demand, blood supply increases so that tissues can get more oxygen. To supply more oxygen, our heart needs to pump more. Cycling, swimming, running, walking all are examples of aerobic exercises.
Resistance training is simply working against a weight or force. Our muscles become stronger by working against weight or force. Resistance training reduces fat and creates leaner muscle mass. Lifting dumbles, using resistance bands and even body resistance like push-up, squat, chin-up, pull-up, etc. are perfect examples of resistance training.
At least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise in a week and 30 minutes per day, at least five days a week are recommended. At least two nonconsecutive days of resistance training in a week is recommended. Many pieces of research have shown that combination of aerobic exercise and resistance training may raise HDL (good cholesterol) and lower LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in the bloodstream.
Stretching will not improve heart health, but it will make you ready for aerobic exercises and resistance training by reducing the risk of injuries.
Five easy exercises for better heart health
Swimming can be called full-body exercise because you need to move each and every body part against water. It keeps the heart rate up and reduces stress, which is beneficial for heart health.
Walking, especially brisk walking, will keep your heart rate up and strengthen your heart muscle. You can walk any time of the day, maybe in the morning on the way to the office or maybe on the weekend.
Cycling is also an aerobic exercise that uses large muscles of legs, which is beneficial for cardiac health. Researchers in Denmark conducted a fourteen year-long study on thirty thousand people aged between twenty to ninety-three years old individuals. It showed cycling helped to maintain their cardiac health.
4. Weight training
Weight training is a type of resistance training. You can use equipment like dumbbell. Push-up, pull-up, chin-up, squat, plank, etc. are also effective, and you can do it at your home without any pieces of equipment.
5. Interval training
Alternating between low and high-intensity training is known as interval training. For example, you can run for one minute and then walk for three minutes. You can continue this cycle, and it will raise and lower your heart rate, which is beneficial for blood vessels.
If you have pre-existing cardiac complications, you should consult your doctor before starting any exercises. Even if you are healthy and notice any worrying signs like chest pain, shortness of breath, or dizziness during the exercise then you should stop and that may be an early sign of cardiac disease. In that case, you should consult your doctor.