With more than 647,000 Americans dying of heart disease each year, heart health is a top priority for American adults. Heart disease remains the leading cause of death, prompting health care providers like the team at CA Heart and Vein Specialists to raise awareness about what you can do to protect your heart and prevent heart disease.
Among the lifestyle changes that promote heart health, exercise offers major benefits. Here, we’ve put together a guide to get you started on the path of better circulatory health.
Exercising for heart health
The goal of being physically active is a major step toward keeping your heart healthy. Along with eating a heart-healthy diet, refraining from smoking, avoiding excess alcohol, and maintaining a healthy weight, exercise is one of the most effective tools for staving off heart disease. Exercise keeps your circulatory system strong and healthy, promotes healthy blood pressure, and helps keep blood sugar under control.
If you aren’t sure where to start, this guide provides some ideas of the types of exercises that most benefit heart health. The most important thing is to get moving — your body was meant to move. Physical activity benefits your heart and circulatory system in the following ways:
- Lowers blood pressure
- Prevents arterial plaque build-up
- Lowers cholesterol
- Helps balance blood sugar
- Promotes energy balance (helps to prevent weight gain)
- Strengthens the heart muscle (makes it more efficient at pumping blood)
When it comes to heart health, aerobic exercise and strength or resistance training are the most beneficial for the heart.
Aerobic exercise is a type of cardiovascular conditioning. To put it simply, it gets the heart pumping and keeps the heart working. When you engage in aerobic exercise, your breathing and heart rate increase and your heart, lungs, and circulatory system work together to pump oxygenated blood to your working muscles. This is the key to its benefits for heart health.
Examples of aerobic exercise include running, swimming, tennis, cycling, and brisk walking.
Resistance exercise is a type of fitness training that causes a group of muscles to contract against resistance. This improves muscular fitness. A combination of aerobic and resistance exercise is one of the best ways to lower cholesterol.
You can use various methods for creating resistance, such as dumbbells, hand weights, and resistance bands. However, no equipment is necessary. You can use your own body weight. Examples of resistance exercise include:
- Bench press
- Shoulder press
- Leg raises
- Arm raises
Resistance training is an important part of building and maintaining muscle.
Before beginning any new exercise regimen, discuss it with our board-certified cardiovascular physician, Dr. Majed Chane. After a comprehensive evaluation, Dr. Chane can recommend a safe exercise routine. If your current lifestyle is sedentary, it’s best to start slowly and increase your physical activity gradually to give your body time to adjust.
If you have high blood pressure or any other condition that impacts your heart, it’s imperative to discuss exercise with your doctor first. Heart disease is largely preventable. Even your genes don’t have the final say. Whether you’re looking to improve your heart health or treat an existing condition related to your heart and circulatory health, we can help. To learn more, call our Huntington Beach, California, office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Chane, or request an appointment here on our website.