We all know that having a healthy heart is key to living as full a life as possible. After all, it beats around 40 million times per year so it’s pretty important that we look after it and try to keep it at peak performance. Especially as, the less exercise the heart gets, the higher the risk of heart disease and related illnesses.
The good news is that, because the heart is a muscle, the more we exercise it (as part of a regular and properly designed regime) the stronger it becomes. With a healthcare professional’s approval and no underlying reasons as to why exercise should not be undertaken, we can undertake an assessment of your cardiovascular fitness and limitations and have a good idea of how little or how far you can be pushed in our workouts.
Although the heart is always working, not every activity is helping your heart to get stronger. Sitting down for any length of time just doesn’t do anything positive for your heart muscle so even simply standing or walking about a little is better for helping to improve heart fitness.
It’s a really good idea to try to exercise the heart every day. Even a thirty-minute walk can have a positive impact. Most experts recommend spending at least 150 minutes per week doing moderate exercise. NHS guidance here, and you can obviously do this by yourself, with a trainer or with friends.
Although, if you are intending to allocate that sort of time to your exercise, then you may benefit from working with a personal trainer who can design a more focused, personalised and time-efficient programme, taking into account your individual fitness goals, whether in your home or at the gym. The demands of each session will increase to lead you through successive stages of increasing effort safely and sympathetically.
However, many people very content that their regular, shorter walks will provide the exercise that their heart needs to keep it “ticking along” nicely.
Having waxed lyrical about the importance of exercising your heart, it would be remiss of me to ignore the part that diet can play in contributing to your general “heart healthiness”
Of course, if you are exercising it is wise to include foods that can contribute to the success of the effort you are investing by sustaining strength and improving endurance to enhance the impact of the exercise being undertaken.
Diet as a factor in Heart Health
I apologise if this next paragraph is “old news” to anybody but I believe it does no harm to include in a missive about treatment of your heart muscle, a tribute to the virtues of foods that contain minerals, antioxidants and natural vitamins e.g. kale and spinach. You can add blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries; whole grains such as whole wheat, quinoa, oats, barley, rye, buckwheat and brown rice, each group offers real benefits to heart health.
For monounsaturated fats you could try avocados. While a source of omega-3 fatty acids include sardines, salmon, tuna and mackerel
Beans, walnuts, almonds, tomatoes, flaxseeds, chia seeds and hemp seeds. Garlic, green tea and even dark chocolate – all have ingredients and characteristics that benefit the heart and as part of a
balanced diet will help maintain your heart and reduce the risk of heart disease. More information available at The British Heart Foundation
The main takeaway from this brief message is that exercise is as vital for the heart as it is for every part of our body and you don’t need to get up too much of a sweat to improve well-being and enrich life.
Thanks to items referenced.
How your heart works – Heart and circulatory system – British Heart Foundation (bhf.org.uk)