Posted: Feb 06, 2014 8:00 AM
 
February is Heart Disease Awareness Month — the time to reflect on changes we can make to improve our heart health. Consistent exercise is one of the best ways to keep hearts healthy. Hear an expert opinion about the best frequencies and types of exercise to improve cardiovascular health.

Best exercise for heart health

Preventing heart damage can be much easier than fixing it later in life, and exercise is an important factor in heart health. Focusing on the visual ways exercise changes bodies leaves out a key reason to hit the gym. Improving your body on the inside happens with every workout you do, but it can be hard to determine the best way to exercise.

Dr. Yasmin S. Ali is the President of Nashville Preventative Cardiology. She suggests that the best type of exercise for heart health is, "… aerobic exercise that encourages cardiorespiratory fitness." Aerobic exercises are basically anything that gets your heart pumping: walking at a decent pace, jumping, swimming, dancing or playing a variety of sports.

An expert talks about exercise frequency and intensity

Dr. Ali offers examples about the difference between moderate and vigorous activities, terms often used when discussing exercise recommendations. She says, "Moderate activity is, for example, brisk walking, general gardening, ballroom dancing or playing doubles tennis. Vigorous activity would be jogging, swimming, cycling at 10 mph or more or singles tennis."

If a person can get a full hour of at least moderate activity on most, if not all, days of the week, that would be optimum for developing the physical fitness that leads to heart health.

Dr. Ali states that national guidelines recommend 30 minutes of moderate activity at least five days a week, but her recommendations for the best preventative routine is a bit higher than that. Dr. Ali suggests, "If a person can get a full hour of at least moderate activity on most, if not all, days of the week, that would be optimum for developing the physical fitness that leads to heart health."

Finding time to exercise

orange alarm clockDr. Ali's recommendation can seem daunting, especially for busy moms who may struggle to find the time for three or four gym workouts each week. The key to meeting Dr. Ali's goals for anyone looking to improve their cardiovascular fitness is the intensity level she suggests. Her recommendation of moderate activity means you can incorporate exercise into your day in creative ways, such as taking a family walk or bike ride around the neighborhood or playing soccer in the backyard with your kids.

Scheduling workouts is another way to fit in your exercise time. Blocking out time in that way can seem selfish, but protecting your heart is one of the least selfish things you can do for your family. A healthy heart is a giant step toward a long, active life, so don't let guilt keep you from logging your workout time!

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