Updated: Jul 28
Looking to improve your heart health? These seven exercises are simple to incorporate into any lifestyle.
The World Health Organization (*), the US Department of Health and Human Services (*), and the Centers for Disease Control (*) agree - physical activity is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. In fact, exercise is so effective at improving our health that it’s recommended alongside, or even in place of drug therapy (*).
7 Heart Health Exercises You Need to Add to Your Workout Routine
Starting an exercise routine that moves you toward heart health can seem intimidating if you’re currently sedentary. However, studies show that adding just 48 minutes a week of physical activity benefits your health and reduces your risk of future disability (*). If you’re ready to reap the benefits of heart-healthy exercise, here are seven things you can do to get moving and improve your cardiovascular health.
Related: Check out this post on workout motivation tips! We all need a little boost sometimes.
Walking is one of the best ways to start improving your fitness. It has marked benefits for those who are new to an exercise routine, or who have limiting factors such as obesity (*). Walking has been shown to have health benefits in every age group from children to the elderly. In fact, just 30 minutes a day of walking, 5 days a week, was shown to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 19% in all populations (*). Plus, walking is a great way to take time during the workday to practice self-care!
Swimming is an effective way to get exercise without weight-bearing stress to the joints or excessive overheating. A regular swimming routine has been found to significantly reduce systolic blood pressure readings in adults with prehypertension and stage 1 hypertension (*). Don’t know how to swim? Many public pools or universities offer adult swim classes, from beginners to advanced.
A 2014 study found that even 5-10 minutes of slow running every day significantly reduced the risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Runners are shown to have lower adjusted risks of cardiovascular mortality. Therefore, runners tend to add 3 years on average to their life expectancy (*). Beginners’ programs like Couch to 5K can help even the most sedentary individual become a runner.
Choosing to bike to work could be life-changing in more ways than one. People who cycle to work lower their cancer risk as well as cardiovascular disease and death (*). If you can’t cycle to work, consider adding biking to your leisure time or even joining a local cycling group.
*The Yosuda Indoor Bike is a smooth and durable bike that is extremely quiet. It's no surprise that it was voted one of the "Best Bikes for Most People"!
Best Exercise Bikes for 2022 [*]:
Best Exercise Bike For Most People: Yosuda Indoor Cycling Bike
Best Budget Exercise Bike: Barwig Stationary Bicycle
Best Folding Exercise Bike: Xterra FB150 Folding Bike
Best Under-Desk Bike: DeskCycle Under-Desk Bike
The uneven terrain of hiking presents a challenging environment for your cardiovascular system, core muscles, and balance (*). In addition, hiking has also been shown to improve mental health, including fatigue and anxiety (*). Hiking's mental health and physiological benefits make it the perfect exercise for nature lovers.
6. Strength Training
Resistance training, whether it involves barbells or bodyweight, has been proven to reduce health risks. Some health risks include heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, and type 2 diabetes. High and low intensity strength training is shown to improve cardiorespiratory fitness (*). Strength training also improves health factors including depression and sleep quality (*).
Cardiac health isn’t just about high intensity. Exercises that involve body resistance and flexibility training also benefit cardiac health (*). One popular activity that involves both of these fitness factors is yoga. A 2017 study found that 16 weeks of Bikram yoga participation led participants to show significant improvements. Some improvements include diastolic blood pressure, body fat percentage, fat mass, and body mass index (*).
Best Yoga Mats for 2022 [*]:
Best Value Workout Mat: AtivaFit Non Slip TPE Exercise & Workout Mat
Best Workout Mat for Yoga: Liforme Original Yoga Mat
Most Versatile Workout Mat: Yoga Design Lab Infinity Mat
These physical activities are just seven of many that can improve your physical and mental health. Experts agree that the best physical activity for you is the one you’ll enjoy and actually perform consistently.
Try using a fitness planner to help you achieve your fitness goals and get you on your way to being heart-healthy.