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    How to boost your heart health with cardiovascular exercise

    Let’s get your heart pumping with some cardio exercise!

    Did that get your attention? For those of us who are trying to boost our heart health, the key may be increasing our cardiovascular exercise. Increased physical activity is suitable for anyone who is trying to achieve better heart health, keep their weight down and ward off anything that could potentially damage the heart, including bad cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar.

    The word cardio comes from the Greek word kardia, which means heart. The heart muscle is essential to keep the body functioning properly, and blood pumping throughout the rest of your body.

    The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity at least five days a week, or 25 minutes of vigorous exercise at least three days a week, for a total of 75 minutes.

    Let’s help you form a plan to increase your heart health.

    First Consult with your Doctor

    Many types of cardiovascular exercises can work to get your heart muscle pumping. Before you begin, though, please consult with your doctor. It is important to consult with your doctor before starting a new exercise regime, especially when it has been a while since you have exercised. Your doctor can help determine what state of health you are in currently, and can make recommendations for the best exercises with which to start.

    Fitness Goals

    Before you begin your fitness routine to improve your heart health, you need to have an assessment of where you are starting from.

    • How physically fit are you?
    • What types of exercises interest you? Goat yoga, anyone?
    • Would you rather workout in the comfort of your home or at a gym?
    • Are you interested in hiring a personal trainer to help you achieve your fitness goals?
    • What are your goals?

    For instance, if you want to become a weight lifter and compete in a competition, you would need to first start with a weight lifting program. You might want to think about joining a gym where you can learn the proper form for lifting weights to prevent injuries.

    Let’s Start Exercising

    A good exercise routine should have a combination of aerobic exercise, strength training and stretching.  Aerobic exercise, such as biking, swimming or walking gets your heart pumping. While working out, pay attention to any signs that your body is working too hard, and inform your doctor if you are not feeling well. While it’s important to push yourself out of your comfort zone, it’s also important to listen to your body. The more you workout, the easier you will be able to differentiate between what “pushing yourself” feels like and what “warning signs,” indicating you need to slow down, feel like.

    A good stretching routine can warm up the muscles, increase flexibility and prevent the body from injury. It is an excellent habit to stretch before you start any exercise.  Some good ideas of stretches can be found here, at the Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/multimedia/stretching/sls-20076840

    Stretching should feel like you’re pushing your limits, but you should not feel pain. If your goal is to touch your toes, work your way up to that. Do not overwork your muscles to the point of causing an injury.

    Strength training is key to keeping the muscles in your body working and pumping. These exercises include: lifting weights, yoga and incorporating resistance bands into your workout.

    The key to any exercise plan is finding something that you genuinely enjoy doing. If an exercise is not enjoyable for you, then try something else. Eventually you will find one that you love and can easily incorporate into your lifestyle.

    What exercises have you tried that you love? Comment below to let us know.

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    Melodi Smith
    Melodi Smith is a reporter and producer who has a passion for using traditional and digital technologies to communicate.  Her professional experience includes working for CNN and WKMG-TV in Orlando. Melodi is a proud graduate of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications.

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