3 Types of Exercise to Improve Heart Health


Walk up a flight of stairs. Run down the street to catch a train or bus. Hustle your way through a workout. Or work in the yard. 
Your breathing starts to increase. Your heart rate goes up. You break a sweat. But if your cardiovascular system isn’t used to this, it gets hard in a hurry. Sound familiar?

Your heart is a muscle, and you need to exercise it to keep it strong. Here are three exercises for a healthy heart:

1. Aerobic exercise. It’s pretty simple. Any non-weight bearing activity that elevates your heart rate counts. Walk, bike, swim, or take an aerobics class. Work in the garden. Do jumping jacks or pick your favorite workout video and follow along. Even fast-paced grocery shopping and housekeeping can get your heart pumping. Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity at least five days a week.
2. Strength training. No, you don’t have to be a bodybuilder. But you can hit the gym. Use the machines and do 1-2 sets of exercises (10 repetitions per set) for each muscle group (chest, legs, back, shoulders, arms, and core). Or just exercise at home and try push-ups, crunches, bodyweight squats, wall-sits, and jumping jacks. Carve out a little time to do strength training or resistance exercises at least two days a week.

3. Flexibility and balance training. Try this. Stand on one foot and balance. Put your hand close to a wall to stabilize yourself if you need to. OK, now close your eyes and try it. Chances are pretty good, it’s harder for you. Practicing balance trains your brain and improves the mind-muscle connection. Stretching and flexibility exercises can also improve joint mobility and range of motion, so you can do more aerobic exercise and strength training to keep your heart healthy.

Regular exercise is important for a healthy heart. But that’s not the only thing that makes a difference. Eating a balanced diet with foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish, and lean meats, can help, too. Make your own meals or pick your favorite heart-healthy meals on the Low-Sodium menu like: