#happylife: fitting in a heart healthy workout

#happylife: fitting in a heart healthy workout
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Like monitoring your diet, an important component of improving your overall heart health is exercise!

Experts at St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute say when it comes to heart healthy exercise, it’s all about sitting less and moving more.

Engaging daily is aerobic activities like biking, running, walking or cycling for just 22 minutes can have both immediate and long term benefits.

Exercise physiologist Delaney Wakefield explained, “it has an effect on all those different risk factors for heart disease. It helps to decrease blood pressure after, helps to manage blood sugars, improve our cholesterol numbers and it aids in weight management.”

If you don’t have a bike or feel it’s too cold to run outside, Delaney says mall walking can have the same effect as hoping on a treadmill, as does just marching in place while watching TV.

Prior to aerobic exercise, she added it will do your heart good to do a warm up and stretching. The warm up should include a lighter version of the aerobic exercise for a few minutes. The stretches can be done sitting down and can involve you touching your toes and moving around your ankles in a circular pattern for 30 seconds each time. The good news is, all warm ups and stretches are included in the 22 minutes of aerobic activity!

Resistance training is another way to work out for heart health, but should be done in addition to aerobic exercise. Resistance training should also not be done every day. Wakefield recommends 2 to 3 days a week, and instead of 22 minutes a day, it’s more about repeating movements 15 times over.

Activities like lifting weights or push-ups can reduce body fat, another risk for heart disease.

Adds Wakefield, “overall carrying more weight in your mid-section, that is one of those risk factors for heart disease and that also, carrying extra weight has impact on other risk factors. It contributes to diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol.”

Wakefield says for both aerobic exercise and resistance training, you should never overexert yourself, as that can not only cause injury, but for things like shoveling large amounts of snow can lead to heart issues.

If you don’t have weights at home, find items in the kitchen as a substitute. Wakefield tells her patients to reach for soup cans or bottles of water.

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