It’s probably not news to you that staying physically active is an important part of a heart-healthy lifestyle. The heart is a muscle, and regular exercise is essential to keeping it strong. Moving your body on a frequent basis is also important to preventing harmful buildup of plaque and cholesterol in the bloodstream, and shedding extra weight that may force your heart to work harder. All of these are key to avoiding long-term cardiovascular issues like heart disease and stroke, but for many of us the realities of the pandemic have ruled out going to the gym and other types of exercise which we have enjoyed in the past. Here are six exercises you can try today for a healthier heart.
1. Go for a walk
Taking regular constitutionals has been a life-saver for a lot of us just in terms of staying sane during the pandemic, but it’s also a great way to get your blood going. Taking a stroll for just a half hour a day is great for losing weight, lowering cholesterol, and raising your energy levels. To avoid injury, make sure you don’t try to cover more distance than is comfortable for you at first.
2. Jump rope
Maybe you haven’t used a jump rope since you were a kid playing double dutch, but skipping rope is an exercise with tons of advantages for people of any age. Not only is jumping rope a fantastic aerobic exercise, it’s also inexpensive and easy to do at home. Getting used to this exercise again might take a minute if you haven’t done it in awhile, but try taking it at a moderate pace and find intervals that work for you.
3. Ride your bike
Riding your bike is a fun and efficient way to get around as well as being great for your heart and lungs. Regular cycling can help strengthen your heart, lower your resting heart rate, and reduce the levels of fat and cholesterol in the bloodstream. Many cities are encouraging their residents to use bikes for transportation, expanding bike lanes and introducing membership-based bike rental stations. Make sure to ride safe by obeying the rules of the road and always wearing a helmet.
4. Do body weight exercises
Aerobic exercise is critical, but it can also be really helpful to work some resistance workouts into your regular regimen. Resistance training can lower bad cholesterol and help to literally reshape your body, burning fat and creating lean muscle mass. It can be super simple to do without leaving the house. Some great resistance exercises you can do without needing any equipment include planks, push-ups, and squats.
5. Use resistance bands
Resistance bands are highly versatile tools for stretching and strengthening a wide range of muscle groups, and are another outstanding option for anyone trying to strengthen their heart and build muscle mass without leaving the house. The bands themselves will range in price from brand to brand but on the cheaper end can be found online for less than twenty dollars. Not a bad value for a piece of exercise equipment you can use for so much!
6. Do yoga, or at least make sure to stretch
Flexibility should be part of any heart-healthy exercise routine for multiple reasons, not least of which is that maintaining limberness and flexibility will keep your body functioning well and reduce your risk of hurting yourself during the course of other exercises. Yoga has been shown in studies to be very helpful in reducing stress and anxiety, which have both been tied to a higher risk of heart disease. You may not be eager to attend a yoga class while the COVID pandemic is ongoing, but many very helpful videos you can follow along with at home may be found on YouTube.