Heart disease is a leading cause of death, not only in America but worldwide. But it’s not unavoidable. Some of the risk factors — like family history, sex, or age — are tangibly linked to us.
However, don’t be too alarmed by this scary but very real fact. There is plenty of data showing that with the right lifestyle changes, you can significantly mitigate the risk of heart disease.
The most practical way to lower the risk of heart disease is through regular exercise. Let’s explore the best exercises to reduce your risk of heart sickness.
Before we go further, it’s important to understand how exactly exercise can aid your cardiovascular health. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), routine exercise can improve your heart health in several ways:
- By lowering blood pressure
- Reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes
- Lowering cholesterol levels
- Reducing stress and anxiety
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Improving overall cardiovascular function
If you have any of these conditions, you should be glad to know that exercise is your answered prayer to remedy them and mitigate your risk of heart complications.
5 Exercises to Mitigate Your Risk of Heart Disease
Walking is the most effective and convenient form of exercise. It delivers numerous health benefits and doesn’t strain the body as rigorously as other workouts. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, walking for just 30 minutes a day can mitigate your risk of heart disease by up to 30%.
Swimming is a phenomenal low-impact activity that’s also easy on the joints. It is a great alternative for people with joint issues and who can’t perform rigorous training. It’s also a very fun way to exercise. Swimming enhances cardiovascular health by increasing your heart rate and improving circulation. For those who can’t swim, just being in the water and moving around for some time can still mitigate the risks of heart disease.
Cycling is another remarkable low-impact exercise that’s easy on the joints. It increases your heart rate and helps with weight loss which in all mitigates the risk of heart conditions. Cycling can also build up your muscular strength and endurance. It works your quads, hamstrings, calves, and hips.
- High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
If you’ve ever done a HIIT workout then you know it leaves your heart pumping like no tomorrow. HIIT exercises improve cardiovascular function and reduce the risk of heart disease. Current evidence from The National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that HIIT was more effective than moderate-intensity training at improving overall heart health. The researchers concluded that “high-intensity interval training can elicit higher enjoyment and greater physiological adaptation…”
- Strength Training
Strength training isn’t just for building muscle. It can also benefit your cardiovascular health. Strength training can improve cardiovascular function by increasing the demand on your heart, due to the intensity of lifting heavy weights. Whether lifting really heavy weights for lesser amounts of reps or lifting lite weights for greater amounts of reps — strength training produces advantageous results on your heart health.
How do you know when you’re making progress?
There are many ways to track your exercise progress. Some of the most common are heart rate during aerobic exercise, number of reps during lifting weights, and comparing fat vs. muscle in overall body composition.
- Heart rate – The more in shape you are, the harder you’ll need to work to elevate your heart rate. For example, in the first month you may need to walk 4 mph to reach a heart rate of 130, while in the second month in order to reach the same heart rate, you need to walk 5 mph. Your fitness level has improved thus, your heart is working more efficiently.
- Repetitions – The more weight you can lift 10-12 times without straining, the stronger and more enduring your muscles are. For instance, you usually struggle to bench 135 pounds 10 times but after 3 months of being consistent, you can now bench 135 pounds 15 times.
- Body composition – The more you exercise the more your body will start to change. You’ll begin to lose fat and gain muscle. A looser pair of pants or a decrease in dress size is a great sign of progress.
Keep in Mind
No matter what, all research suggests that some exercise is better than none. Most people aren’t able to always perform high-intensity workouts, but studies show that moderate-intensity activity can still mitigate heart disease.
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No content on this site should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other licensed clinician.
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