Did you know that according to the Center for Disease Control heart disease is America’s #1 killer? It’s true! One person dies every 37 seconds in the US from cardiovascular disease. That’s why it’s the leading cause of death in America for men, women, and most racial and ethnic groups. However, regular exercise and activity can help reduce your risk of heart disease and can add years to your life. That’s why I’d like to share with you 8 heart-healthy activities you can do this summer.
The heart includes some of our most important muscles. Like any muscle, it gets stronger and more reliable with proper training (i.e. exercise). However, any time you move around, it’s good for you. You can especially boost your heart health through aerobic exercise — an activity that uses the large muscles of your body and prompts your heart to beat faster and causes you to breathe more heavily.
If you have a medical condition such as a heart problem or diabetes, visit with your health care professional about exercise before starting any of the below activities.
If you’d like to get the most from these heart-healthy activities and boost your fitness, track your heart rate and make sure it’s going up to a good level during your aerobic activities. Start by finding out what your resting heart rate is. You can count your heart beats for 10 seconds and multiply that number by six.
During your activity, you should boost your heart rate to about 50 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate based on your age. Here’s a chart that shows age ranges, your target heart rate, and your maximum heart rate.
When you first start exercising, aim for the lower number for your age range. As your fitness improves, you can slowly work toward the higher number.
With that being said, let’s begin to take a look at what heart-healthy activities we can do to help us this summer.
As mentioned above, aerobic activity is a great way to get your heart rate up. Also, aerobic exercise is proven to reduce the risk of many conditions, including obesity, high blood pressure, and Type 2 diabetes.
Have fun while staying active! Whether you prefer a rumba beat or two-step tune, dancing makes for a great heart-healthy activity. Like other forms of aerobic exercise, it raises your heart rate and gets your lungs pumping. It also burns up to 200 calories or more per hour, reports the Mayo Clinic.
Strength training strengthens not only your biceps and calf muscles but also your heart. This increases the number of blood vessels in your body and the size of those blood vessels so your heart can get more blood out to your body faster.
Flexibility workouts, such as stretching and yoga, don’t directly contribute to heart health. However, what they do is benefit musculoskeletal health, which enables you to stay flexible and free from joint pain, cramping, and other muscular issues. According to Johns Hopkins University, if you have a good musculoskeletal foundation it enables you to do the exercises that help your heart. That’s a win-win!
Depending on what you’re capable of doing, walking or swimming offers some great benefits as a form of exercise. Walking briskly can lower your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes as much as running, according to a study conducted at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in Berkley, California. It also improves your mental well-being. To learn more about the benefits of walking, click here.
Summer is pool season, of course. And swimming is a fantastic activity for improving heart and lung capacity while also being gentle on your joints. In addition, it improves cardiovascular fitness and cholesterol levels.
Start and stop, then start and stop again. During interval training, you alternate bursts of intense physical activity with bouts of lighter activity. The Mayo Clinic reports that doing so can boost the number of calories you burn while working out. Give it a try!
Here’s a fun way to achieve your fitness goals using a method that is often overlooked. Jumping rope is perfect because it fits in with all workout goals — fat loss, endurance, strength, or performance. And it gets the job done, anywhere.
Is there a heart-healthy activity that you enjoy that I forgot to cover? I’d love to hear your thoughts at email@example.com. Also, please be sure to subscribe to my newsletter to receive more great health and wellness tips straight to your inbox each Friday.