Your heart is a muscle that pumps blood throughout your body. Like every other muscle the heart needs exercise to stay healthy and perform efficiently. Exercise keeps your heart healthy by reducing inflammation in the arteries and helping blood flow more freely through your vessels. Even if you are a couch potato or the idea of breaking a sweat gives you the hives, there are many fun and easy ways to get your heart pumping. A few suggestions follow below.
Take a walk
You don’t have to devote endless hours to vigorous exertion to keep your heart healthy – you just have to move regularly. In fact, according to the American Heart Association walking is the most effective path to heart health. Studies have shown that just 30 minutes of walking most days each week can increase life expectancy and reduce the risk of heart disease. Not sure how you can fit 30 minutes into your already crammed schedule. Try this:
– Break the time up into smaller chunks, like 10 minute increments.
– Ditch convenience – take the stairs, get up to change the channel rather than use the remote, walk, rather than drive to get the mail, walk to co-workers rather than send email.
– Walk your dog.
Take a break for fun
Exercise isn’t just about suiting up for sports. You can get heart healthy doing fun things you love, too. For example:
– Make a playlist of your favorite tunes and get your heart rate up while grooving to the beat.
– Head outside for a game of hoops with the kids.
– Garden, pile up fall leaves for jumping or shovel snow for an epic snow ball fight.
– Jump on your bike and head for the trails.
– Hike through the mountains.
– Take a swim.
Transcendental meditation may also help you maintain heart health. Researchers have found that regular, daily Transcendental meditation (TM) is an excellent way to relieve stress and promote heart health. TM improves heart health by delaying or eliminating the “fight or flight” response. Over activation of this response causes undue stress on the heart by releasing cortisol and adrenaline and restricting blood vessels and flow. TM can also reduce blood pressure and reliance on blood pressure medications.
Join the gym
Your gym offers a buffet of heart healthy choices. Joining gives you options for strengthening this all important muscles in a variety of ways. Even better, you don’t have to go it alone. When you exercise in a group or with friends you get a social as well as a physical outlet. How is that for heart heath?