How Does Exercise Help Your Heart Stay Healthy?

running cardio work out best for heart health

Who doesn’t know that exercise is good for you?  All exercises has some benefits to your heart if you do enough of it. And the good news is that you will still benefit even if it’s just 10 minutes a day.

Your body is designed to be moved, and you allow it to function optimally when you regularly move it through moderate amounts of exercise. Exercise doesn’t need to be a “workout” per se, it can be you playing basketball with friends, or a game of tag with the kids. If you make it fun, you’ll be more likely to do it regularly. So how much exercise do you need, and how does exercise help your heart stay healthy?

The Optimal Amount of Exercise

Generally speaking the more you exercise the better, but that’s true to only a certain extent, too much of anything is bad for you. Ultramarathon runners are a good example of this. They are runners who go on extremely long runs, usually over 100 miles non stop! This is very bad for the knee joints and feet. But ultramarathoners come from the desire to challenge themselves, and the point here is that if you’re exercising for health reasons, then consistent and moderate amounts is usually the best way to achieve the best results.

3 Ways Exercise Benefits Your Heart

Exercise, especially cardio exercises like running and cycling, really gets the blood circulating throughout your body, and it’s incredibly beneficial for all areas of your body, especially your heart.

1. Good For Lowering Blood Pressure

The NIH (National Institutes of Health) had done a study that looked at how beneficial regular exercise is for your blood pressure. The participants had to do moderate amounts of exercise at least 30 minutes a day, and at least 5 days a week. The results? The blood pressure of 3/4 of the participants were reduced by an average of 10 mmHg for both the systolic and diastolic numbers.

You don’t have to wait long either, the benefits kick it pretty quickly. Let’s say you’re new and you just started, you can exercise for 30 minutes and about an hour after that you’ll already be able to observe the benefit of a reduced blood pressure, and it will last for hours and hours. If you exercise consistently enough, these health benefits can become permanent! 

2. Good For Lowering Bad Cholesterol

As you may know, there are “good” and “bad” cholesterol.  Bad cholesterol stays in your arteries and increase your chances of a heart attack or stroke, while good cholesterol acts as a clean up crew for the arteries, taking the bad cholesterol back to the liver and on it’s way to be eliminated from the body.

Exercise increases your body’s good cholesterol while lowering the bad cholesterol. All exercise is useful to some extent, but cardio exercises like running, jogging, swimming, biking, etc will produce the most benefits.

3. Reducing Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

People with diabetes would really benefit from regular exercise because exercising helps control your blood glucose levels, and also reduce your body’s sensitivity to insulin. By exercising regularly, diabetics are less likely to develop more serious health complications such as heart problems.

5 Easy Ways To Add More Exercise To Your Life

Can’t find the time or desire to hop over to the gym everyday? No problem. You don’t need the gym to exercise, just make some changes to your daily life and routine. Here are some examples:

  1. Instead of driving to work, ride your bike or jog there. And if it’s too far to bike or jog, then park your car some place farther away than you normally would. This way you’d force yourself to jog the extra distance.
  2. If you’re taking the bus to work, get off a few stops earlier so you can jog the rest of the way.
  3. Instead of playing on your phone during lunch break, why not go for a walk or a run instead?
  4. Use the stairs to go up instead of the elevators. 
  5. Workout while you watch TV. Do some squats, curl some dumbbells, step-up aerobics, jumping jacks, anything!

Read More: Tips on Staying Fit During Cold Winter Months

In my experience the more you exercise, the more you’d want to do it. The hardest part is simply starting, but once you start moving you’ll start feeling the benefits which encourages you to do more.

My advice is to make it easy in the beginning just so you’d stick with it. Once the pattern is set and you’re regularly getting into the routine of regular exercise, then think about increasing the duration of it. Experts recommend about 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, if you can’t do 30 minutes then do 15 minutes, or even 5 minutes! The goal here is to start and make it a habit. 5 minutes a day for a year is better than 1 hour a day for a week. But don’t stay at 5 minutes forever, challenge yourself to improve, and your health will benefit accordingly. 

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