From bright red and pink postcards to heart-shaped boxes of chocolate and timeless Hershey’s Kisses, February is the month of love. During Valentine’s Day, individuals both young and old celebrate being with the ones that matter most. While this holiday celebrates the love in our hearts, many should also make February a time of celebrating the health of our hearts. In addition to the month of love, February is American Heart Month.
If you want to give your heart to someone special, it’s crucial to make sure that you have a healthy heart. Heart health is important for everyone. Just like any other muscle in the body, the heart needs to be worked out in order to remain strong and healthy. Being physically active is essential for preventing heart disease and stroke, the nation’s number one and number five killers, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). The AHA recommends that for overall cardiovascular health, completing at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least five days per week or at least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least three days per week, or a combination of the two.
Whether you’re living with cardiovascular disease, know someone with heart issues or just want to keep your ticker running smoothly, here are some helpful heart healthy workouts to exercise this month.
The simplest positive change you can make to effectively improve your heart health is to start walking. It’s enjoyable, free, easy, social and great exercise. A walking program is flexible and boasts high success rates because people can stick with it. Walking is beneficial because it uses lots of muscles with light impact, such as your legs, abdominals, arms (from swinging) and back muscles to keep yourself upright. The more muscles you use, the better your aerobic health. A regular walking program can improve your cholesterol profile, lower blood pressure, increase your energy and stamina, boost bone strength and prevent weight gain.
Yoga is an ancient practice with mental and physical health benefits for people of all ages. Practicing yoga — as part of an overall healthy lifestyle — can help lower blood pressure, increase lung capacity, improve respiratory function, boost circulation and give you a sense of well-being while building strength. Additionally, many Americans enjoy yoga to help relax and increase flexibility. However, according to the AHA, yoga does not typically count toward the physical activity requirements of 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week.
Strength and resistance training
Strength and resistance training are crucial elements of a good physical activity routine. The AHA recommends strength training at least twice per week. Advantages of strength and resistance training include increased strength of bones, muscles and connective tissues; lower risk of injury; and increased muscle mass, which makes it easier for your body to burn calories and thus maintain a healthy weight. Simple strength training workouts that can be beneficial are leg exercises, arm raises, triceps extensions, abdominal exercises and balance exercises.
Gardening can give you an excellent cardio workout and be a great way of staying in shape. While enjoying yourself in the garden, you are also working all the major muscle groups: legs, buttocks, arms, shoulders, neck, back and abdomen. There can also be a great deal of stretching involved with gardening, like reaching for weeds or tall branches, bending to plant and extending a rake. Lifting bags of mulch, pushing wheelbarrows and shoveling all provide resistance training similar to weight lifting. While doing these movements, there is minimal jarring and stress on the body, unlike aerobics or jogging. Plus, you get some necessary vitamin D from the sun, but don’t forget SPF when working outside for more than 15 minutes!
While heart disease can be treated, it’s far more suitable to encourage a preventive take on cardiovascular health. With age and genetics playing inevitable factors to heart issues, certain lifestyles can significantly increase the risk of heart disease, such as diabetes, smoking, excessive alcohol or caffeine use, drug abuse and stress. The Aero Jet Medical team recommends making smart and healthy lifestyle choices year-round so you can avoid hurting your heart.