9 Great Heart Healthy Exercises

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  • The American Heart Association recommends that in order to achieve optimal health, you need 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise on most days of the week. If 30 minutes is too long, try to divide up your exercise routine into 10 or 15 minute segments instead. "Aerobic exercise improves heart and lung fitness and can impact many of the risk factors for heart disease," says Deb Sampson, RN, BC, clinical coordinator for cardiac rehabilitation at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.
  • Walk It Out For Heart Health The top aerobic exercise to gain a healthy heart is walking. Walking is safe, fun, cheap, and can typically fit into anyone’s busy day. Get your walking time by huffing it to work or to the grocery store. Or simply go for a stroll around your neighborhood. Aerobic exercises are those that use large muscles in a continuous, rhythmical manner over time, and walking is a fantastic example of that.
  • Exercise at Home by Climbing the Stairs To get the maximum heart health benefits from any type of aerobic exercise, you should be aiming to reach between 50% and 85% of your maximum heart rate. Climbing stairs is an easy way to get into that target range very easily. You can do it at home, out and about, or at the gym on the stair climber. In order to find out your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. If you prefer not to count heartbeats, you can assume that you’re in your target rate if you can carry on a conversation while exercising without being totally out of breath.
  • Go For a Bike Ride! Pumping up the large muscles in your legs is a great aerobic exercise for your heart. Whether you are using a stationary bike at the gym or going for a ride on your own bike, you'll get your heart going. Pedaling at home on a stationary bike is a good way to improve your heart’s health if the weather is too hot, too cold, or too wet outside. The position of the seat and pedals are important to prevent injury when biking so be sure that your bike is properly adjusted to fit your body type.
  • Go For A Swim Swimming is by far one of the best aerobic exercises and also one of the most popular sports in the U.S. If you’re able to swim 2.5 hours a week, then you are providing your heart with the exercise it needs in order to achieve optimal health. Additional advantages include less stress on your bones and joints. This is especially beneficial to those who are starting out, carry a little extra weight, or suffer from joint conditions such as arthritis.
  • The Elliptical is a Fantastic Exercise Machine Elliptical machines are quickly becoming one of the fastest growing aerobic exercise machines out there. They can be found in most fitness centers and are also popular purchases for home gym equipment. Advantages to using the elliptical for heart health are that this machine provides you with a great upper and lower body workout at once. The leg motions mimic both the action running and the lower impact benefit of cycling. At the same time, the arm movements get blood flowing to your shoulder and back areas. The elliptical is a great alternative if you don’t have access to a pool for swimming.
  • Dance to Your Heart’s Desire Dancing is one of the best ways to boost your heart health. Cutting a rug is great because it combines both rhythmic and aerobic exercises while you're moving to some good music. All the equipment you need this is some great shoes, some open space, and of course some great tunes. A good aerobic rate is somewhere between 120 to 135 beats per minute. Dancing can range from high to low impact depending on your ability and preferences. And you can dance with others in a class such as Zumba or jazzercise. Or you can do it at home.
  • Stay Fit with Wii Fit Playing interactive video games is a great option for those who prefer to exercise at home. That may sound silly, but the results will speak for themselves, Studies show that Wii Fit boxing, tennis, and bowling could increase your heart rate enough to qualify as aerobic exercise. Remember, to meet the physical activity guidelines, you will need to play for about 30 minutes for at least five days a week.
  • Get Some “You” Time with Tai Chi A majority of the nearly 2.3 million American adults who participated in a recent survey by the National Institutes of Health said that Tai Chi is their low impact exercise routine of choice. Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese form of exercise based on the martial arts. It uses slow rhythmic body movements combined with deep breathing and concentration. That's why it’s called a “moving meditation.” It is a great exercise that benefits not only your heart but the rest of your body and your mind as well.
  • Water Aerobic Definitely Makes A Splash The American Heart Association recommends that in order to achieve optimal health, you need 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise on most days of the week. If 30 minutes is too long, try to divide up your exercise routine into 10 or 15 minute segments instead. "Aerobic exercise improves heart and lung fitness and can impact many of the risk factors for heart disease," says Deb Sampson, RN, BC, clinical coordinator for cardiac rehabilitation at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.