Skip to main content

The 6 Best Exercises for Heart Health

Regular exercise is very important for a healthy heart. Here, exercise means any aerobic activity that can raise your heartbeat for a few minutes. Regular exercise gives you multiple benefits for your heart health.

Learn more

Exercise is the key to a healthy body. We have all known this fact since childhood. Still, how many of us do enough exercise to maintain our overall wellness?

Surprisingly, according to AHA (the American Health Association), only 20% of adults and teenagers are engaged in exercise to maintain their optimal health.

The AHA recommends that a healthy adult should  indulge in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week for good health. And when it comes to heart health, exercise becomes all the more important.

Modern technology and rising comfort in people’s lives have made our lives busier and easier. Though there is technology, devices, and machines for doing everything, we hardly get time for ourselves. Ultimately, what we are witnessing are the rising cases of cardiac arrest, heart stroke, and cardiac problems all over the world.

So, the clear idea to keep your heart healthy is to sit less and move more.

But how does exercise maintain a healthy heart?

What exercises are good for your heart?

How much and when should you exercise for a healthy heart?

Let’s find out the answers to all these questions in this article.

Why Is Exercise Important for Heart Health?

Regular exercise is very important for a healthy heart. Here, exercise means any aerobic activity that can raise your heartbeat for a few minutes. Regular exercise gives you multiple benefits for your heart health, such as:

Lower Your Risk of Heart Conditions:

Exercising daily improves blood circulation in your heart, improving your cardiovascular system. It helps reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and other heart diseases.

Improves the Function of the Arteries:

Exercising helps your heart’s blood vessels become more flexible, allowing smoother blood flow. Also, it stimulates nitric oxide production, which widens and relaxes blood vessels.

Better Functioning of the Heart:

With exercise, you can strengthen your heart muscles so that they can work more efficiently to pump blood throughout the body. Gradually, you can also increase the size of your heart chambers with exercise, making them function more effectively.

Reduces Visceral Fat:

Having a lot of fat around your waist indicates potential health issues. This fat indicates that there is a high deposition of fat around your organs, known as visceral fat. Extra levels of visceral fat can negatively impact your cardiovascular system and may lead to higher systemic inflammation. Exercising can help engage your core so that you can burn your visceral fat.

Improves Metabolic Rate:

Muscles are important for heart health as they improve your metabolic rate. With strength training exercises, you can build more muscle mass, which, unlike fast cells, keeps you metabolically active.

Maintain Good Mental Health:

Mental health and heart health are interconnected. People with persistent anxiety and depression are at greater risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiac issues. However, exercising helps you release the endorphins, the feel-good hormones, which beats your stress and lifts your mood.

Other than this, exercise also helps reduce inflammation in the heart and manage your weight.

How Should I Start Exercising for My Heart Health?

If you want to start exercising for your heart health, it is better to meet with a professional health expert first. Any suggestions would depend on your current heart health, your physical activity at present, and what you want to achieve.

Whatever it is, your first and foremost motive should be to at least start with something to kill your sedentary lifestyle. Anything that you start with will be one step forward towards an improved heart. Also, you must know that every person is different, so whenever you start, start slowly and safely.

Some Tips Before You Start:

  • Aim for an exercise program that is small and builds up gradually.

  • Consistency is the key to success. So, make a routine that you can sustain for a longer period.

  • Don’t overload your system by doing too many or too fast exercises.

  • Try not to feel exhausted or out of breath after an exercise program. If you do so, it does not indicate a good workout. Instead, it means you overdid it.

  • Don’t indulge in an intense exercise session one day, and take 3-4 days’ rest to recover from the exhaustion. Such a routine won’t bring any health benefits.

  • If you don’t have an hour or a half to dedicate to exercise, don’t worry. The ultimate goal is to move. If you are doing daily chores like cleaning, gardening, or shopping, it also counts. Even if you extract 10 minutes for yourself, it’s much better than doing nothing.

What Are the Best Exercises for Heart Health?

According to experts, it is best to start with aerobic activities. Once you get used to them, you can also try some strength training sessions.

Aerobic Exercises:

Aerobic or cardio exercises are the best way to start for a healthy heart. They can make your heartbeat faster so that your heart pumps oxygenated blood faster to the working muscles. With consistent effort, you can strengthen your lungs and heart, increasing their efficiency. Here are some aerobic exercises that you can try:

  • Brisk walking

  • Hiking

  • Skipping rope

  • Jumping jacks

  • Swimming

  • Cycling

  • Playing sports

  • Jogging/running

  • Cross-country skiing

  • Climbing stairs

Strength Training Exercises:

Strength training aims to strengthen your heart muscles with resistance. With strength training, most people imagine lifting heavy weights in a gym, but that’s not the only strength training you can do. Apart from the weights, you can create resistance with resistance bands or even with your body weight. So, other than weight lifting, you can try:

  • Yoga

  • Pilates

  • Crunches

  • Leg lifts

  • Resistance bands

  • Small dumbbells

  • Weight machines

  • Kettlebells

  • Push-ups

  • Squats

  • Lunges

Stretching:

Stretching helps increase muscle flexibility and joint mobility. When you have flexible muscles and joints, you are at a lesser risk of injuring yourself while exercising.

How Much Exercise Is Good for a Healthy Heart?

According to the American Heart Association, if you are doing moderate intensity exercise, 150 minutes a week is good. However, for vigorous exercises, aim for 75 minutes a week. Apart from this, you can also create a combination of both each week. In this exercise program, it would be nice if you added muscle strength training (moderate to high intensity) twice a week. Your goal should be to do 300 minutes of physical activity.

For children under the age of 5, it is okay to move around throughout the day.

For children between the ages of 6 and 17, a healthy heart demands 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activities every day. However, it would be better if they could include bone and muscle strengthening in their daily exercise schedule.

People who are recovering from any cardiac condition need a special exercise program focused on the prevention of their condition.

How Much Should My Heart Rate Be When I Exercise?

Every exercise has a different level of difficulty and effort. For example, when you are cycling, it can be moderate or vigorous, depending on the force you exert. So, just by analyzing an exercise, you cannot find out the intensity of the exercise.

However, you can do this by tracking your heartbeat rate. Tracking your heart rate while you exercise helps you adjust your exercise routine according to your fitness goals and helps you achieve them.

So, what should be your target heart rate?

  • For moderate exercise, 50-70% of the maximum heart rate

  • For vigorous exercise, 70-85% of the maximum heart rate.

To calculate your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. For example, if you are 30 years old, your maximum heart rate would be 220-30=190 beats per minute.

It is very essential to exercise within these numbers. These numbers indicate that you are putting beneficial stress on your heart. However, when you cross these numbers, you put extra strain on your heart, which may lead to undesirable cardiac events.

So, whenever you notice that you are going about the target heart rate during your exercise, slow down a bit. Stop for a while. Cool yourself down and rehydrate. Let your heartbeat return to normal and then start again.

If your heart rate does not come down and you are feeling any discomfort or difficulty breathing, seek medical attention immediately.

How Can You Track Your Heart Rate?

In normal conditions, you can track your heartbeat by putting your fingers on your wrist and counting the heartbeat. However, during workouts, you need this tracking every five minutes, and thus manually doing this is impossible.

Thanks to advancing technology, we now have various devices that allow you to track your heart rate without disturbing your exercise flow. These devices are:

  • Arm/wrist wearables

  • Chest bands

  • Smart rings

  • Pulse oximeters

  • Chest bands

  • Built-in sensors on exercise equipment like treadmills or stationary bikes

  • Smartphones

Different devices have their pros and cons related to size, effectiveness, or cost. You can choose one that suits you in every aspect. You can buy OMRON’s pulse oximeter or a good-quality chest band. Choosing clinically proven devices ensures you get effective results.

Conclusion

Lack of physical activity in your sedentary lifestyle may put you at risk of developing several heart conditions. An unhealthy heart may further lead to several other complications for other organs. So, make it a habit to do at least 15-20 minutes of workouts daily in any form you like.

For those who engage in vigorous exercises, we advise them to be in moderation. Excess of everything is bad, and it holds for exercise as well. For better results, keep tracking your heartbeat with OMRON’s pulse oximeter or chest bands.

References

American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults and Kids. (2024, January 19). www.heart.org. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults
Pescatello, L. S., Franklin, B. A., Fagard, R., Farquhar, W. B., Kelley, G. A., & Ray, C. A. (2004). Exercise and Hypertension. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 36(3), 533–553. https://doi.org/10.1249/01.mss.0000115224.88514.3a
Exercises heart health. (2024, December 6). https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/activity/exercises-heart-health

Select a maximum of 2 products.