When it comes to optimal health and wellness, healthy living fundamentals are primarily easy to follow. We mostly understand what we should be doing to achieve better health and wellness. It’s just those points of getting started and then sticking to it when all motivation is lost.
Healthy living isn’t just about eating right; exercise plays a crucial role in countless physiological processes and can help manage or prevent a whole host of illnesses and diseases.
Heart disease claims more lives each year than any other cause. The good news is that in terms of looking after your heart and improving your overall health and wellbeing, exercise can actually play an enormous role.
Experts encourage exercise habits and remind us about the benefits, yet many of us aren’t exactly sure how much and what types of exercise we should get each week to reap the health and cardiovascular benefits.
The Ideal Amount of Exercise
Before we delve into how much exercise we need, please bear in mind that every person is different and unique. These numbers and figures should give you a rough idea of how much exercise you should perform weekly.
According to health officials and experts, we should aim to achieve a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, or alternatively, 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise weekly or a combination of the two.
Aerobic exercise gets your heart rate up and benefits your cardiovascular health. At moderate intensity, your heart will be beating faster, but you can still speak. Consider this as a medium effort. Exercise at a vigorous intensity will increase your heart rate considerably, you’ll begin to sweat, and you will not be able to keep up a conversation as you will be breathing hard and heavy.
Examples of Moderate-Intensity Aerobic Activities
- Heavy cleaning
- Playing doubles tennis
- Mowing the lawn
- Brisk walking
- Easy jogging
- Aquatic therapy
- Fast dancing
Examples of High-Intensity Aerobic Activities
- Hiking uphill or with a heavy backpack
- Jogging or running
- Swimming laps
- Cycling fast or on hills
- Playing singles tennis
- Playing basketball
- Jumping rope
The numbers reflected above don’t suggest you should go to the gym once a week and take part in a mammoth 150-minute aerobic workout. Instead, it is recommended that you spread this out over the course of the week and perform 3 – 4 workouts instead.
Experts recommend doing two sets of major muscle group-targeted exercises at least twice a week for strength and mobility. The major muscle groups are legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms.
Examples of Major Muscle Group Exercises
- Tricep dips
- Dumbbell curls
- Jumping rope
- Overhead presses
Why Exercise is Important for the Heart
Exercise provides many health benefits that extend beyond your heart and cardiovascular system. However, as heart disease remains the world’s leading cause of death, we must understand why exercise is so beneficial for the heart and cardiovascular system.
Exercise Reduces Blood Pressure
Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, can lead to an increased risk of stroke, heart disease, heart attack, renal failure, and numerous health conditions.
Exercise is excellent for reducing blood pressure as it strengthens the heart, which allows it to pump more efficiently, placing it and the arteries under less stress, which in turn helps to reduce blood pressure as blood can flow more efficiently.
Exercise is most efficient in reducing triglycerides and raising HDL (the “good” cholesterol). The good news is physical activity along with diet modification reduces LDL (bad cholesterol) levels.
Study findings in Lipids in Health and Disease report that physically active women had significantly higher HDL cholesterol levels than sedentary women.
Exercise Makes Your Heart Work More Efficiently
Exercising reduces heart rate and blood pressure and keeps your heart healthy by keeping your body active. As you ramp up your fitness, you’ll be able to exercise longer because your heart works more efficiently. More blood pumps with each heartbeat, so your heart doesn’t have to work as hard.
Exercise Helps With Weight Control
Particularly when in tandem with smart dieting, physical activity is crucial to weight loss and good health. Being overweight puts a strain on the heart, which is a risk factor for developing heart disease and cardiovascular disease.
The Takeaway: Put Your Heart Into It
Exercise has many heart-healthy benefits, including lowering stress and reducing inflammation, among many other perks.
The long-term health benefits of a healthy heart are essential, especially for longevity and quality of life. A workout regimen will benefit the heart for years to come. The most important thing isn’t the type of exercise, but you’re performing an exercise you enjoy. Choose an activity that you like, and you’ll turn fitness into a lifestyle because you’ll adhere to something you love doing.
As always, remember to check with your doctor before starting or adding anything new to your fitness regime.