Heart Disease is the number one cause of death among both men and women alike in America—And February is American Heart Month! It has been proven that Hearth Disease can be prevented and exercise is one of the most important things you can do to reduce risk.
Regular exercise is important to a healthy heart as it:
- Strengthens the Heart
- Helps Maintain a Healthy Weight
- Reduces Stress
- Boosts Mood and Self Esteem
- Lower Blood Pressure
Promotes Good Sleep* Meditative exercise like yoga can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep throughout the night. However, cardio and strength training done within 3-4 hours prior to bedtime can hinder sleep patterns and restful sleep.
So what type of exercise is best for reducing your risk for heart disease? The answer is anything that safely gets your body moving and your heart rate up! By safe, it is important to consider joint impact in relation to age and past or current injuries and as well as current condition of your heart and the intensity and duration of the exercise your taking on.
It’s important to note that if you are new to fitness, it may be helpful to consult a fitness professional to guide you to a program that works for you and your body. Moreover, if you currently have heart related health issues or a family history of heart disease, please consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise regime.
However, if you are overall healthy and ready to begin a new workout or add a workout of focus that will address factors that impact cardiovascular or heart disease, the two best options are moderate intensity cardio or aerobic activity, stress reducing exercise or both! Moderate intensity exercise such as brisk walking or biking increases blood flow to the heart and strengths the heart muscle. With a sensible diet, cardio exercise can help maintain a healthy weight. Thirty minutes most days of the week is a safe program for most adults and can additionally help reduce insulin resistance and non-insulin-dependent diabetes, which appears to be an even stronger risk factor for cardiovascular disease in women than in men. Diabetes is linked to an increase in cardiovascular disease risk among women more so than among men. Approximately half of all deaths in patients with non-insulin dependent diabetes are due to heart disease.
Moreover, stress reducing exercise like yoga or Thai Chi can boost your mood and lower blood pressure. Poorly controlled stress may have an adverse effect on blood lipids. An attitude of hostility has been powerfully linked with a higher incidence of cardiac events, and cynical distrust has been associated with accelerated progression of carotid artery disease. Relaxation methods (meditation, breathing exercises), yoga, and stress management techniques are essential for preventing cardiovascular disease recurrent cardiac problems. Meditation improves exercise tolerance and decreases electrical changes associated with poor circulation to the heart. Meditation has also been shown to lower cholesterol and reverse carotid artery thickening. Also consider acupuncture, which has been shown to help relax the myocardium and improve circulation. Fifteen minutes of restorative yoga or similar exercise done 30-60 minutes before bed can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer with less intermittent waking up. We all know the benefits of sufficient and restful sleep impact more than just heart disease.
So whether you are adding yoga to your current workout routine or beginning a walking program, “Put Your Heart Into It” and know that you are taking personal action reduce and prevent the your number one threat- Heart Disease!