How to exercise your way to a healthy heart
-Apr 16, Hannah Hargrave, Fitness -
When it comes to looking after your heart, exercise is one of the most important things for you to do. We take a look at the best ways to look after your precious health.
With heart disease being one of the five most common causes of premature death in the UK it’s never been more important to look after this essential organ. And something as simple as regular physical exercise can help protect it.
There are factors which are out of our control, such as age, family history and gender. But getting moving is something within most of our grasp. If you want your heart to stay healthy this is why it’s so important.
Exercise lowers stress levels
If your stress levels are through the roof, you could be in danger of diseases such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure – which negatively impact the heart.
“Exercise is vital for maintaining physical and mental fitness,” personal trainer Melissa Lorch tells Lumity Life magazine. “Amongst other things it improves sleep, which in turn reduces stress. And it’s been shown to improve cognitive function too.”
Plus if you look and feel your best, then you’re less likely to feel stressed.
Even five minutes of aerobic exercise have been shown to stimulate anti-anxiety effects.
How exercise can make you feel happier
It’s not just the physical organ that exercise improves, it can help the heart emotionally too.
“Exercise releases your body’s endorphins, and these natural, happy hormones make you feel good,” says Melissa.
Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body as well as reducing your perception of pain.
Why exercise lowers blood pressure
“Blood pressure is best described as the pressure of the blood on the walls of blood vessels,” explains Melissa.
“If it has risen for an extended amount of time it can cause damage to the vessels in the body.”
So what’s considered an ideal blood pressure for an adult? “At or below 120/80 mm Hg,” says Melissa.
Can exercise help lower cholesterol?
“People today lead a much more sedentary lifestyle and that, combined with eating too much saturated fat, can lead to high cholesterol,” explains Melissa.
Exercise and making healthy food choices can lower bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) which clogs the blood vessels leading to the heart.
A regular workout routine aids weight loss too which in turns helps lower cholesterol.
How getting moving strengthens the heart
It’s not just your biceps, quads and ab muscles that benefit from exercise, your heart muscle gets stronger too.
“Exercise gets the heart pumping and that strengthens it,” says Melissa. “Aerobic exercise in particular benefits your cardiovascular system and makes it easier for the heart to do it’s job.”
How working out can help you to maintain a healthy weight
If you’re overweight, especially around the midsection your heart pays the price. So it’s important you get moving to keep your weight in check.
You don’t need scales to tell you if you need to slim down either, because your waist measurement can give you the info you need.
Melissa explains: “For females you need to try and make sure your abdominal circumference is 80cm or less. If it’s above 80cm but less than 88cm then you are at high risk and if it is above 88cm then you are at a very high risk of getting diet related diseases like diabetes and heart disease.”
Did you enjoy this article? If you’re looking for some new exercise ideas you might also like to read about why a LISS Workout might be all you need to get your daily quota of exercise. And why let the kids at pony club have all the fun? – You’re never too old to start horse riding.