American Heart Month: Exercises To Take Better Care Of Your Heart
February is American Heart Month -- it's a month dedicated to raising awareness for heart health. Maintaining a healthy heart requires everyday efforts of eating well and doing the right exercises, but if you make these things habits, it doesn't feel like work -- especially the workouts, as long as you reach your target heart rate. Here are 4 easy exercises to take better care of your heart.
Strut Your Stuff
Brisk walks for 30 minutes or more every day keeps your heart strong and helps you burn calories to maintain your weight. To get the most out of walking, try different routes and terrain -- like walking up hills, speeding up for a few minutes or skipping -- in order to use different muscles. Remember you don't necessarily have to put on activewear for your walks -- all walking counts toward helping your heart and staying fit; even a few extra steps in the grocery store parking lot benefits your health (bonus steps for parking far away!). Additionally, using a pedometer to count your steps can help you build up to goals, meet them and create new ones.
Make It Sparkle
If working out is unappealing to you but you want to keep your heart healthy, chores -- depending on what they are -- can help you raise your heart rate. Giving your bathroom a vigorous scrub, mopping or taking the garbage out counts as exercise. You can even add a few calorie-burning chores like washing dishes by hand rather than using the dishwasher or shoveling snow instead of using the snowblower. It's a simple way to multitask -- your home stays clean and your heart stays healthy.
February weather has most of us looking for alternatives to walking or running outside, and the good news is that swimming may be better for you than either one. Not only does swimming force you to work your whole body, but it also works your heart and lungs to help you produce oxygen more efficiently without putting stress on your joints -- it's also really easy! If that's not enough to convince you to take a dip, multiple studies show swimming can also mean longer life for you.
Break It Up
Interval training should only be done if you already exercise regularly -- it's something you have to work up to. Interval training calls for short bursts of hard drills broken up by short periods of low-energy activity. For instance, do jumping jacks as fast as you can for three minutes and follow that with three minutes of jogging or walking in place. Repeat this three times for an extremely efficient and heart-healthy workout.