Exercise for a Healthy Heart

Did you know that heart circulatory diseases cause more than a quarter of all deaths in the UK, and it is estimated that over 670,000 people are suffering with the potentially disabling symptoms of heart failure?  Rather shocking, isn’t it? Despite these rather grim statistics, there are plenty of ways to keep your heart healthy – so you can live a longer, happier life!

Long term stress and lack of exercise can lead to heart disease, however there are plenty of simple things you can do to protect your heart and stay healthy; one of the easiest being to get yourself moving and make sure you exercise regularly.  Exercise is a natural and highly effective way of preventing heart and circulatory disease.  It improves circulation, reduces levels of cholesterol and strengthens your heart muscles.  Exercise also has other health boosting effects, such as weight loss and stress reduction, helping you to look and feel good inside and out!

What type of exercise should I be doing?

The best types of exercise for heart health are those that involve constant movement at a reasonably fast pace, for 10 minutes or more. This includes fast walking, running, dancing (e.g. zumba), and most types of exercise classes. These forms of exercise should make you slightly out of breath and get your heart pumping, your lungs working and blood flowing around your body. Termed ‘aerobic exercise’, the long term benefits include a reduced heart rate and better circulation, which reduce the demand on your heart and help to keep it healthy.

Toning and resistance style exercises (think pilates, circuit training and legs, bums and tums), have also been proven to be of benefit for heart health. This type of exercise keeps your body moving, strengthens your muscles and improves your endurance, which means you can keep exercising and generally moving (e.g. every day tasks such as walking to shops) for longer, without getting tired. As with aerobic exercise, these fitness improvements mean that your heart doesn’t have to work so hard day-to-day just to keep you alive.

Healthy HeartReducing the demand on your heart helps to keep it healthy and, as a rule, the longer you exercise for the healthier your heart will be!

The average adult should aim to exercise for 30 minutes, in bouts of 10 minutes or more, 5 days a week.  However if this is a lot for you, start with less and gradually increase the time you spend exercising each day and throughout the week.  And, if the thought of formal exercise really fills you with dread, the good news is that any form of exercise and general movement will benefit your heart. Long periods of sitting down contribute to developing heart disease.  Simply using the stairs instead of the lift, walking instead of driving, and getting up and moving around your desk or living room every 30 minutes is a fantastic start for a healthy heart.

So, the next time you hear a catchy song on TV, don’t resist the urge to dance – get up and get moving…….your heart will thank you for it!