You do not have to run marathons to enjoy enhanced heart health. Low-impact brisk walking is one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve your cardiovascular health while simultaneously fortifying your bones and muscles, preventing various chronic conditions, and enhancing your balance and coordination.
Here are a few tips for making the most of your walking routine. Get the right gear, choose a safe and appropriate course, and be sure to warm up, cool down, and stretch upon completion of your walk. Proper form is also important. Says the Mayo Clinic: “Turning your normal walk into a fitness stride requires good posture and purposeful movements.” A personal trainer can help you make sure your technique is on point while also offering other invaluable workout tips. (To get started, sign up for a personal trainer session today.)
While walking is great, many people who start their fitness journeys as walkers eventually progress to running. According to research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, this popular leisure activity also has profound benefits, including lowering your cardiovascular mortality risk. Even a little running pays off, as it turns out. The report concluded: “We found consistent long-term mortality benefits of leisure-time running. This study underlined that running even at relatively low doses (5 to 10 min/day), below the current minimum guidelines of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, was sufficient for substantial mortality benefits.”
Cleveland Clinic sports cardiologist Dermot Phelan, MD, Ph.D. explains: “Running does so much for your body. It reduces your risk of high blood pressure. It improves your lipid profile. It improves your insulin sensitivity and reduces your risk for diabetes and metabolic syndrome. All of these benefits from running work together to reduce the overall chance that you are going to have a heart attack or stroke. Start at any age, but start, I often tell patients.”
As all kids know, swimming is one of life’s most pleasurable activities. It is also so much more than that. Says Berkeley Wellness: “If you’re looking for exercise that improves heart and lung capacity, but is gentle on your joints, swimming is a top choice. Like other aerobic exercise such as running, it can improve cardiovascular fitness as well as cholesterol levels, provided you swim at a brisk pace.”
Experts recommend starting with 20 to 40 minutes of lap swimming and progressing to longer workouts, using different strokes and at varying speeds to maximize your time in the pool.
A study conducted by the British Medical Association recently determined that cycling just 20 miles a week can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by a whopping 50 percent, as reported by Medical News Today. Cycling outdoors has its benefits, but spin classes are a safe and exciting alternative.
In recommending spinning as one of the best forms of cardiovascular activity, the South Denver Cardiology Associates team says: “The activity functions a lot like cycling, in that it requires you to make rapid movements over an extended period of time against resistance. This makes it a great cardiovascular activity, and within a gym, you don’t have to worry about such things as moving cars, uneven terrain, or insects that may impede your performance, or worse. Spinning can also be done with a friend or class settings, since spinning stations are a dime a dozen in fitness centers…Unlike cycling where you need to adjust your speed and tempo to keep pace with your friends, spinning allows you to cater your physical activity to your own fitness level, without needing to leave your group behind in the process. It’s fun, it’s communal, and a great way to reinforce your heart’s health. So the next time you are at the gym, give an hour of spinning a chance.”
In addition to boosting heart health, cardio has a number of other benefits, including everything from weight management to improving your stamina. It can even help boost your mood thanks to the release of “feel good” endorphins.
These four forms of exercise are just the start to promoting heart health. From cross-country skiing and stair climbing, to rowing and Zumba, there are near-endless ways to get your heart rate pumping. Sign up for a trial pass today to learn more about how Brick Bodies can help you boost your cardiovascular health.