Many people spend much of their exercise routine focusing on the muscles of the legs, arms, and back, but what about the heart? The heart is also a muscle, an important one at that! But what are the ways we can improve our heart health?
As the main organ of the cardiovascular system, the heart features four main chambers and a network of blood vessels to pump blood throughout the body. The brain, nervous system, and endocrine system work with the heart to control heart rate as well as other body functions. For example, the heart plays an essential role in kidney filtration because the heart pumps oxygen-filled blood through the entire body, including the kidneys. With oxygen-filled blood, the kidneys can clean the blood as well as remove waste products and extra water. Without the heart and kidneys working together, the body would have too much waste and water, and the heart would be overworked or not function at all.
While many focus on caring for and toning the typical muscles, few focus on the importance of heart health. With heart disease being the leading cause of death in the U.S. and strokes being the fifth leading cause, taking care of your heart is essential. Those with better cardiovascular health are at a lower risk of dying of heart disease, stroke, as well as other diseases.
In this post, we will look at the risks of poor heart health and ways of improving your cardiovascular fitness level for a happier, healthier life.
Implications of Poor Heart Health
The consequences of poor cardiovascular health can include:
- Systemic disease
- Risk of heart attack
- Decreased endurance
Activities to Improve Heart Health
Becoming more cardio-fit can help improve your mood as well as your overall well-being while reducing the risk of heart failure and the likelihood of hospitalization as you age due to heart issues. In fact, there are many activities you can incorporate into your daily routine that can help improve your cardiovascular health. According to a Johns Hopkins exercise physiologist, aerobic exercise and strength conditioning are the most important for a healthy heart. Exercise routines combined with a well-balanced diet can also greatly benefit your health.
Heart-pumping aerobic exercises help improve circulation as well as increase overall aerobic fitness. Some aerobic activities to add to your daily exercise regimen include:
- Using a treadmill
- Jumping rope
Strength training also focuses on body weight and reducing fat to create leaner muscle mass. Your strength training regimen may include higher repetitions with fewer rest breaks or heavy load and low repetition with a low rest break. In fact, the key is having your cardiovascular system work hard without overdoing it. You want to get your heart pumping!
Workouts can include:
- Working out with free weights, such as dumbbells or barbells
- Using resistance bands
- Body-resistance exercises, including push-ups, chin-ups, as well as squats
Consulting a nutritionist to help you add heart-healthy foods to your diet can help improve your cardiovascular health as well as boost your energy level. Including more whole foods in your meals rather than processed foods is also an easy way to promote better nutrition to support heart health. Think of whole foods as those found in nature, while processed foods are typically found in packages and have been modified or transformed from their original form with unnatural additives.
Whole Foods Examples
- Fresh Fruits
- Fresh Vegetables
- Whole Grains
- Meat and Fish
Processed Foods Examples
- Potato Chips
- Breakfast Cereals
- Ready-to-Eat Meals
- Canned Fish
- Fruit Cups
Get in the Driver’s Seat of Your Heart Health with Cawley!
Is pain inhibiting your path to good cardiovascular health? Or are you unsure of exactly how to exercise without risking injury? Contact us at Cawley Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation! We can get you on the right path as well as help you be in the driver’s seat of your health.