Heart Healthy Physical Activity

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Woman heart disease image The heart is often used as a symbol of vitality for good reasons. The heart pushes blood and oxygen to every cell in the body to be used as fuel and carries waste away. Without this process, the body cannot function. The heart plays a role in many aspects of your health and wellness.

Efficiency Matters

The heart beats an average of 60-80 beats per minute, which can add up to millions of beats in just one month. When something works this hard, it is important that it also works efficiently. Well-conditioned athletes can have resting heart rates around 50 beats/minute. Even though their heart beats slower, it can do the same amount of work or more than a heart that beats 60-80 beats/minute. An athlete’s heart pumps stronger during each beat, needing fewer beats to get the job done. Over a lifetime, a difference of 10-30 beats/minute can add up to quite a few beats.Fortunately, you do not need to be an elite athlete to have a strong, healthy heart. Adding any physical activity to most days can be your connection to better heart health. Physical activity can be as simple as going for a walk. Being active can help your heart and ward off several health problems. The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous activity. Our bodies are, after all, designed to be active. In fact, inactivity can lead to problems. Your bone and joints are more susceptible to damage and breaks, and you increase your risk for heart disease.

An Ounce of Prevention…

The heart can be affected by physical and mental stressors. You can feel your heart speed up when you sprint across a busy road or when you have a burst of emotion like anger or surprise.Physical activity can decrease the stressors on the heart and body. A fit body and mind will help improve heart health. Regular physical activity can:
  • Improve physical abilities by:
    • Improving the heart’s ability to pump blood
    • Increasing energy levels
    • Increasing muscle strength and endurance
    • Improving agility
  • Change physical appearance by:
    • Toning your muscles which gives you a tighter appearance
    • Burning calories which helps with weight loss or maintenance
  • Improve overall wellness by:
If you have heart problems, physical activity can still play an important role. A strong and healthy body can help you manage your condition. Physical activity can help reduce the stress on a sick or weak heart and decrease secondary risks like obesity and diabetes. If you do have heart health issues, talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program. Even if you are healthy, but have not exercised in a long time, you may need to talk to your doctor to make sure that you are in good physical condition to exercise.

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