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Exercises to Strengthen Your Heart

Updated: Feb 14

Exercising can strengthen our heart and improve our circulation. It helps lower our risk of heart diseases such as heart attack, and high cholesterol. Exercising regularly can also lower blood pressure.



Types of exercise:


1. Aerobic exercise (cardio)


Aerobic exercise improves circulation, which induces lowered blood pressure and heart rate. It can also reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.


Walking, jogging, running, and biking are some of the exercises that are classified under this category.


It is recommended to perform cardio at least 30 minutes a day, and at least 5 days a week.


With consideration of the pandemic, here are some simple exercises you can perform at home without any professional equipment!


  • Marching in place




1. Stand straight

2. Take alternating steps in place by bringing up your knees to a comfortable height

3. Increase the speed slowly and maintain a moderate pace

4. Continue for 60 seconds

You can increase the intensity of this activity through increasing the speed of

marching, or by raising your knees higher.



  • Jogging in place




1. Bounce lightly from one foot to another while swinging your arms from side to

side


  • Jumping jacks




1. Begin with the feet hip-width apart and arms down

2. Jump up while pushing your arms out to the sides, pointing outwards, while

jumping out with your feet apart, making a star-like posture.

3. Jump up, this time with your arms touching at the top, and with your legs being

shoulder-width apart

4. Jump back into starting position and land softly on the balls of your feet, bringing

the arms back into the side of your body.

5. Repeat the process



  • "Screamer" Lunges




1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart

2. Extend your right leg back to a lunge position

3. Push off with your right foot to lift your right knee to hip height, while jumping in

the air

4. Return your right foot to the starting position and repeat for 10 lunges

5. Repeat the process for your left leg



  • Stair climb




1. Go up and down the stairs several times


You can also further challenge your cardiovascular system and leg muscles by

taking more steps at a time and increasing your speed.




2. Stretching


Even though stretching may not directly contribute to heart health, they are essential in strengthening musculoskeletal health and helps us to maintain aerobic exercise and strength training.


It is recommended to stretch every day and before or after other exercises.


Below are some beginner's stretches which are an excellent start!


  • Standing Hip Flexor Stretch




1. Step forward with your right foot, keeping your left foot in place

2. Drop your back knee slightly, allowing your tailbone to move closer to the floor

3. Do not arch or round your back

4. Hold for around 10-30 seconds, and repeat for the other side



  • Seated Head-toward-knee Stretch




1. Sit with your right leg stretched out in front, bend your left leg with your left foot

next to your right thigh

2. Fold your torso forward over your right leg

3. Hold for around 10-30 seconds, and repeat for the other side


  • Reclining Figure 4 Stretch



1. Lie on your back with both knees bent and feet flat on the floor

2. Cross your right foot over your left thigh and pull your left thigh towards you

3. Allow gravity to bring your legs closer to your body to deepen the stretch

4. Hold for around 10-30 seconds, and repeat for the other side




3. Strength training


Strength training can help reduce fat and create leaner muscle mass, allowing more places to send blood being pumped. This results in lesser pressure on our arteries, which helps reduce chances for heart-related problems.


It is recommended to perform strength training at least 2 consecutive days per week.


Here are some exercises you can do at home!


  • Push-ups




1. Start in a plank position with your pelvis tucked in, neck neutral, and palms

directly under your shoulders. Ensure that your shoulders are rotated back and

down.

2. Brace your core and keep your back flat. Lower your body by bending your

elbows while keeping them tucked into your body, until your chest grazes the floor.

3. Extend your elbows and push your body up to starting position.

4. Repeat as many reps as possible for 3 sets



  • Split Squats




1. Take a large step forward with your left foot, forming a staggered stance.

Distribute your weight evenly between both feet

2. Bend your knees and lower your body down until your left knee forms a 90

degree angle

3. Push up and repeat for 12 reps. Switch legs and repeat



  • Mountain Climbers




1. Assume a high plank position with your arms extended

2. Engage your core and keep your spine and neck neutral, drive your right knee up

toward your chest. Extend it and immediately drive your left knee up towards your

chest

3. Repeat for 30 seconds, going as fast as you can while maintaining good form.

4. Complete 3 total sets



Note:

  • Ensure that you are moving fast enough, so that your heart rate increases, and your breathing gets harder, for it to take effect.

  • However, note that you should be exercising in moderation, so much so that you will still be able to carry out a normal conversation.




Referenced from:

https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/guide/exercise-healthy-heart#1


https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/3-kinds-of-exercise-that-boost-heart-health



Extracted from:

https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-nutrition/no-weight-workout#How-long-should-you-do-this-routine-for?-


https://www.clevelandheartlab.com/blog/a-new-way-to-help-your-heart-stretch/


https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-nutrition/no-weight-workout#How-long-should-you-do-this-routine-for?-






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