Exercise for long-term heart health

Five great exercise options for improving the health of your heart.

Having a healthy cardiovascular system is integral to your long-term health. One of the best ways to achieve this is through regular exercise. The general rule for exercising to maintain a healthy heart is:

  • At least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity five days a week; OR
  • 25 minutes of vigorous training three days a week.

You can achieve these exercise goals in a variety of ways. Here are some recommended options:

Interval training

The idea of interval or circuit training is to combine short bursts of high-intensity exercise with slightly longer periods of active recovery. Raising and lowering your heart rate improves vascular function, burns calories, and makes the body more efficient at clearing fat and sugar from the blood. Some exercise options for this may be to run in 10-second bursts, and then slow to a brisk walk for a minute, repeat. Or you could join a circuit training class at your local gym.

Cycling

Cycling uses large muscle groups in the legs to elevate your heart rate, which helps to improve not only your cardiovascular fitness but also burns calories, and has even been shown to improve mental health. Add some cycling to your weekly routine by riding to work or while running errands, taking your bike out at the weekend with friends, or joining a cycling club. If you’re not into cycling on the road, no worries – use the exercise bikes at your local gym or join a spin class if you’re looking for a challenge.

Swimming

For those who are trying to improve their heart health but haven’t exercised much for a long time, swimming is a good start. Swimming is low impact and won’t cause stress to your joints. At the same time, slowly working on your fitness by swimming laps can seriously improve the health of your cardiovascular system.

Yoga

Not all heart health exercises are high intensity. Yoga is one of the greatest ways to calm your mind and relieve stress, lowering your blood pressure, making blood vessels more elastic and promoting heart health.

Walking

Walking is one of the easiest ways to improve your heart health. Add walking to your busy everyday schedule by leaving your car at home and walking or taking the bus to work. When there is the option, choose the stairs rather than using escalators and elevators. Making these small changes every day can make a world of difference to the health of your heart.

If you’re not sure what exercise will best suit your fitness level or you are worried about your heart, it is always best to talk to a doctor before attempting to exercise. They will be able to point you to a healthy and safe exercise plan that will help improve your cardiovascular system long term. Your local gym can also help you set up a training regime and even supply a personal trainer if you are happy to pay for one.