Most cardiology doctors would agree that good heart care includes a nutritious diet and exercise. A heart-healthy diet is high in dietary fiber, low in salt, and replaces unhealthy fats with healthy polyunsaturated fats, found in certain fish, avocados, nuts, and seeds. Exercise is important to a healthy heart because the heart is a muscle, which means regular exercise helps the heart muscle stay strong.
Exercise also keeps weight under control and helps prevent artery damage from high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar, all of which can lead to heart attack.
Anyone hoping to improve his or her overall cardiovascular fitness should perform 150 minutes or more per week of moderate exercise or at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, according to the American Heart Association, or combine moderate and vigorous exercise. Many people find it effective and convenient to exercise for a half hour a day, five times per week.
Certain exercises are better for heart health than are other exercises, though.
Best Exercise for Optimal Heart Health
The best exercise for heart health gets the heart pumping and the blood moving. The effects of pumping the heart muscle has the same benefit as pumping any muscle – the exercise makes the muscle stronger and more efficient at doing its job. Exercises that stimulate circulation keep blood flowing. Poor circulation allows to pool and clot; blood clots can travel to the arteries supplying blood to the heart to cause a heart attack.
Aerobic exercise promotes good cardiovascular health by improving circulation, which lowers blood pressure and heart rate. Aerobic workouts also help lower weight and decrease blood sugar levels, which reduces the risk of diabetes, which increases the risk of heart disease.
Also known as “cardio” because of its cardiovascular benefits, aerobic exercise is an activity that causes you to breathe heavily. Muscles use oxygen to extract energy from the amino acids, carbohydrates and fatty acids in food.
Examples of aerobic exercise include running, bicycling, swimming, walking, hiking, dancing, cross-country skiing and kickboxing. Taking an aerobics class or working out on cardio machines also get the heart muscle pumping in beneficial ways.
For more information on the best exercise for heart health, consult with Dr. Stevens. Each person is a unique individual, so the best exercise for one person’s heart may not be the best exercise for another.