Published on April 24, 2019
Top exercises for a healthy heart
From maintaining a healthy weight to minimizing the risk of high blood pressure, exercise can go a long way towards supporting cardiovascular health. Research suggests according to the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, people who don't exercise are almost twice as likely to get heart disease as active people — so making it a priority is essential1.
Your heart is a muscle, so when you strengthen it, you help it become more efficient. You don’t need much to get going! Try spending 30 minutes a day doing a moderate-intensity activity (such as brisk walking) and slowly build up from there1.
Below are a few key ways to get your heart pumping.
- Cardio exercise
Cardio exercise is a great way to get your heart working. It improves circulation, which in turn lowers blood pressure, heart rate and cholesterol levels. It also increases your general aerobic fitness, strengthens your heart and blood vessels and helps improve the flow of oxygen throughout your body2. Activities such as jogging, biking and swimming are a few examples.
- Stretching (flexibility exercises)
While stretching doesn’t directly contribute to heart health, it’s an essential part of any exercise routine because it improves muscular health during cardio and resistance training3. That being said, slowing down and breathing during stretches can help calm your nervous system which does help your heart. Thai chi and yoga are just a few examples of activities that include stretching.
- Strength training
Strength training offers a variety of heart health benefits4. Long term strength training can help reduce high blood pressure4 It also helps reduce fat, create leaner muscle mass and boosts your metabolic rate4,5. Using weights, resistance bands, or your body weight (such as push-ups or squats) are all examples of strength training exercises.
Remember, your heart is a muscle, so the more you use it, the stronger it gets! Whatever activities you decide to do, don't forget to check in with your doctor. They’ll make sure you're ready for the exercises you have in mind and let you know about any limits on what you can do.
- Your Guide To Physical Activity and Your Heart. Nhlbi.nih.gov. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/public/heart/phy_active_brief.pdf. Published 2007. Accessed August 11, 2021.
- 10 great reasons to love aerobic exercise. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/aerobic-exercise/art-20045541. Published 2020. Accessed August 11, 2021.
- Flexibility Exercise (Stretching). www.heart.org. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/flexibility-exercise-stretching. Published 2018. Accessed August 11, 2021.
- Strength training: Get stronger, leaner, healthier. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/strength-training/art-20046670. Published 2021. Accessed August 11, 2021.
- Real secret to a Health Heart. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/the-real-secret-to-a-healthy-heart/art-20270834. Published 2016. Accessed August 11, 2021.
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