Heart Healthy Exercises

Heart Healthy Exercises

woman training in gym

I wanted to give our readers some advice on the best fat burning and heart healthy exercises. Before starting any exercise program it is important to know and understand your skill level. For example, if you’re not a runner, don’t try to run 5 miles your first day back on your routine. You’ll find it very difficult, not enjoyable, and will likely develop a negative connotation with running. It is important to find an exercise program or routine that you enjoy doing. Exercise should not be a burden or a chore. It should be a fun activity that you enjoy, which also has the positive side effect improving your heart health.

The most effective way to burn fat and improve heart health through exercise is with high intensity interval training (HIIT). The idea is to combine short bursts of high intensity exercise with slightly longer periods of active recovery, getting the heart pumping, and working to help your heart recover quickly! To try this yourself with a stationary bike; for 1 minute pedal has hard as you can with medium resistance, then continual pedaling but at a much slower rate and with no resistance for an additional 3 minutes. Continue that cycle of 1 minute of hard pedaling with 3 minutes of light pedaling for 30 minutes. This HIIT will continuously raise and lower your heart rate, which improves vascular functions, burns calories, and improves the body’s ability to clear fat and sugar from the blood.

Another great way to improve heart health through exercise is to incorporate full body, compound movements. Exercises that use multiple motions and movements recruit more muscle groups and will burn more calories. This requires the heart to work more efficiently in distributing blood flow to multiple areas of the body. Examples of full body exercise can be swimming, cross country skiing, and rowing.

Resistance training is a third method that can be utilized to help get in some heart healthy exercise. Resistance training is essentially interval training; doing short sets of hard lifting followed by a break in between sets. When lifting is it important to not have too long of breaks in between sets because you want to keep your heart rate elevated to get the cardiovascular benefits. A good way to maintain this is to work 2 different muscle groups at the same time, known as “super sets”. For instance, alternating doing biceps curls and lat pull downs. Do 1 set of bicep curls then go straight over and do the lat pull downs with very little, to no rest in between sets. After your set of lat pull downs head right back over to the bicep curls, continue until you’ve done 3-4 sets of each. This super set method will allow you to be constantly working without completely, and quickly fatiguing a singular muscle group. It will keep your heart rate elevated and burn fat.

Be sure to keep in mind, it is very important that whatever exercise program you decide to pursue to increase your heart health, you make it an activity you are going to enjoy. Preface every workout with a proper warm-up and cool down, incorporating stretching, before and after exercise. Finally, hydration is the key to these exercises producing benefits! Make sure you are drinking plenty of water as you increase your exercise regimen. Make exercise fun and do what’s most enjoyable to you, your heart health will follow!

For more information on Heart Health read our blog from Heart Health Month.