Here’s how much you should exercise for a healthy heart

Maintaining a healthy heart is essential to overall well-being as the heart is a vital organ responsible for pumping oxygenated blood throughout the body, and regular exercise plays a significant role in keeping the heart strong and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, one may ask, “How much exercise is needed for a healthy heart?” therefore, we engaged a few health experts to explore recommended guidelines for physical activity and delve into the various factors that determine the optimal exercise regimen for a healthy heart.

Understand the benefits of exercise for the heart

Here’s How Hard You Should Work Out For A Healthy Heart (Photo by GRAHAM MANSFIELD on Unsplash)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr. Mohit Tandon, consultant non-invasive cardiologist at Fortis Escorts Hospital in Okhla in New Delhi, shared that regular exercise has several benefits for cardiovascular health. It helps strengthen heart muscle, improve blood circulation, lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels, manage weight, and improve overall cardiovascular fitness. Engaging in physical activity also promotes better mental health, reduces stress levels and increases energy levels, leading to a better quality of life.

Sanjay Bhat, Senior Consultant, Interventional Cardiology at CMI Aster Hospital, said: When it comes to exercising and getting fit, cardio is everyone’s favorite routine. From improving heart health to losing weight, cardiovascular exercises have several health benefits and help keep your heart, lungs, and circulatory system healthy. Despite its many benefits, cardiovascular exercise has several associated myths that often demotivate many people and reduce the effectiveness of the workout.

Emphasizing that many people only consider cardio exercises for weight loss, she said: In addition to cardiovascular exercises, strength training exercises such as weight lifting are also equally important for effectively shedding excess pounds. By performing strength training, you not only build lean muscles, but you are also able to burn fat at a fast rate. Lifting weights twice a week for 45-60 minutes will give you an afterburner that will ensure you burn calories even while resting and will also help boost your metabolism. If you run for an hour or do a high-intensity workout for 10-20 minutes, you’ll burn calories. However, many people today believe they can only reduce weight with high-intensity interval training. This is nothing but a myth because even if you are constantly doing cardio exercises at your own pace, you are bound to lose weight and can keep your heart health intact.

Recommended guidelines for exercise

The American Heart Association (AHA) and other reputable health organizations provide guidelines on the recommended amount and intensity of exercise to maintain a healthy heart. These guidelines aim to encourage people to engage in a balanced and sustainable exercise routine. According to Dr. Mohit Tandon, here are the key recommendations:

1. Aerobic Exercise: Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week. Examples of moderate-intensity activities include brisk walking, biking, swimming, or dancing. High-intensity activities can include running, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), or playing sports like basketball or soccer.

2. Strength Training: Include strength training exercises at least two days a week. Focus on working major muscle groups such as legs, arms, back and core. Strength training can involve weight lifting, resistance band workouts, bodyweight exercises, or yoga.

3. Flexibility and balance: Incorporate flexibility and balance exercises into your routine to improve joint mobility and stability. Activities such as stretching, yoga, tai chi or pilates can help improve flexibility and balance, reducing the risk of falls and injuries.

4. Factors Influencing Exercise Recommendations: The optimal exercise regimen for a healthy heart can vary based on many factors, including your age, general health, fitness level and personal goals. It is recommended that you consult a healthcare professional before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have any pre-existing medical problems or conditions.

5. Progression and Safety: It is important to start any exercise routine gradually and gradually increase the duration, intensity and frequency of your workouts. This approach allows your body to adjust and reduces the risk of injury. Additionally, listening to your body, staying hydrated, wearing proper equipment, and using proper form when exercising are key to maintaining safety.

6. Find Motivation and Stay Consistent: Staying motivated and consistent with your exercise routine is key to reaping the long-term benefits for your heart health. Consider these strategies –

  • Set realistic goals: Set achievable short- and long-term goals to keep yourself motivated.
  • Find activities you enjoy: Engage in exercises that you find enjoyable, as it increases the likelihood of sticking to your routine.
  • Mix it up: Vary your workouts to keep them interesting and prevent boredom. Try different activities and explore new fitness or sports classes.
  • Get Support: Exercise with friends, join group classes, or seek support from a workout partner to stay motivated and accountable.

Dr. Mohit Tandon concluded: Regular exercise is a vital component of maintaining a healthy heart and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. By adhering to recommended guidelines, incorporating various types of exercise, and considering individual factors, you can develop a well-rounded exercise routine that fits your needs and goals. Remember, even small increments of physical activity can make a significant difference in your heart health. So lace up your trainers, prioritize your cardiovascular fitness.

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