February is a month after your own heart. With Valentine’s Day and Heart Health Month on the calendar, Cupid and your cardiologist want your heart to feel loved.
One of the best ways to show your ticker a little TLC is with — you guessed it — exercise. Staying fit helps maintain a healthy body weight, manage stress, lower blood pressure, and even reduce your risk of developing heart disease, the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States.
Follow these four fit tips to keep your heart healthy and happy:
1. Engage in mindless movements
Your heart is a muscle that requires movement to stay strong. While finding time for fitness may feel challenging, simple swaps can be made to your daily routine to improve your overall heart health.
Easy ways to implement exercise include replacing TV time with a family walk, biking instead of driving, subbing happy hour sips for a friendly fitness class, and squeezing in a quickie sweat session during your lunch break.
2. Walk it out
Convenient, effective and easy on the joints, brisk walking is an incredibly powerful heart toning tool. Whether you’re pounding pavement in your neighborhood or mastering the machines at the gym, aim for at least 30 minutes a day of moderate-intensity walking, five days a week.
For treadmill walking, try this heart-friendly incline cardio routine:
3. Fierce factor
If you want results, a strolling stride won’t cut it. Keeping a steady pace is essential for boosting your beats per minute and increasing your caloric expenditure. The goal for improving cardiovascular health is 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. High-intensity exercises such as running, sprinting, swimming and sports should make up about 75 minutes a week.
To assess your ventilatory threshold during vigorous exercise (the point when breathing starts to increase), try the talk test. If you can recite the alphabet from A-Z without difficulty, you aren’t working hard enough.
4. Strength train
HIIT workouts (high-intensity interval training) consist of quick bursts of energy followed by short rest periods. This method of exercise has grown in popularity due to its ability to effectively strengthen and condition the body in less time. These high-intensity interval workouts combat chronic health issues that contribute to heart disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and elevated blood lipids.
Try the following HIIT routine:
- Jumping jacks for 60 seconds, then 10 seconds rest.
- Push-ups for 30 seconds, then 10 seconds rest.
- Squats for 30 seconds, then 10 seconds rest.
- Wall sit for 60 seconds then 10 seconds rest.
- Repeat the entire circuit three times.