HealthONE - May 17, 2019

Regular exercise has many health benefits, including lowering your risk of diabetes, stroke, depression and obesity. Exercise is great for your heart too.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General's Report on Physical Activity and Health, people who lead sedentary lives are twice as likely to develop heart disease than those who get regular exercise. Additionally, the American Heart Association (AHA) repoh2rts that for each hour of regular exercise your body gets, your life expectancy increases two hours. Regular exercise can also help lower your blood pressure and your cholesterol. Many scientific reports released over the past 50 years have shown the benefits of exercise in reducing one's risk of heart disease.

Whether you have heart disease or want to adopt a heart-healthy fitness plan, here are three different types of workouts you should incorporate into your exercise routine:

1. Aerobic exercise to boost circulation

To maintain or improve overall cardiovascular health, the AHA recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity on a daily basis. This could include walking five days a week or doing 25 minutes of more vigorous activity, like running three days a week. Aerobic exercise improves blood circulation and can lower your blood pressure. Aerobic exercise includes walking, running, swimming, indoor cycling, outdoor biking, elliptical, stair climbers, dancing and jump-roping. If you're doing a moderate-intensity physical activity, you should be able to talk, but not sing. If you're doing vigorous-intensity activity, you should be breathing harder and not able to say more than a few words without needed a breath.

2. Resistance training to increase muscle strength

The AHA suggests engaging in moderate or high-intensity strength training two days a week. Building strong bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments can not only lower your risk of injury but is also good for the heart. Stronger muscles can also boost your metabolism and help you burn more calories, which prevents weight gain and obesity. Resistance training can include push-ups, squats, chin-ups, free weights, weight machines and using resistance bands. When strength training, it's important to take a least one day off in between training sessions so your muscles can recover.

3. Improving your stretching, flexibility and balance for musculoskeletal health

Doing exercises to increase your flexibility, like stretching and balance training, is good for your musculoskeletal health. Good musculoskeletal health gives you the ability to perform strength training moves and aerobic workouts, which are in turn good for your heart. Exercises to improve flexibility can include yoga, tai chi, dynamic stretching before a workout, and static stretching post-workout.

It's never too late to start a heart-healthy workout. Even individuals in middle age who lead sedentary lives can reduce their risk of heart disease if they start a heart-healthy workout plan or exercise regimen. For those who have heart disease, talk to your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine. Chest pain, dizziness, shortness of breath or palpitations while exercising are not normal — see a doctor as soon as possible if you are experiencing these symptoms.

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