Simple Ways to Improve Heart Health
February is American Heart Month–isn’t it awesome that we have an entire month dedicated to learning how to improve heart health?! Let’s start with a few facts…
Did you know…
-Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States.
-One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease.
-About 655,000 Americans die from heart disease each year—that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.
I don’t know about you but those numbers blow my mind! Heart Disease is way more common than you might think which is why we try and bring more awareness to the issue.
What is Heart Disease
Heart disease doesn’t mean just having a heart attack. Hypertension (high blood pressure) and cerebrovascular disease (TIA/stroke) are also classified as heart disease. Heart disease is any condition of the heart that includes diseased vessels, structural problems, and blood clots.
How can I know where my Heart Health is at?
One easy way to check if you have good cardiovascular health is knowing your ability to climb two flights of stairs. If you are unable to climb up two flights and come back down at normal walking pace without shortness of breath, talk with your Physical Therapist or Doctor about how to improve your cardiovascular health!
If you are unable to do stairs for other health reasons, another good way to recognize poor cardiovascular health is if you are unable to walk two city blocks or carry a couple of grocery bags to your car without shortness of breath.
What can I do?
The best way to prevent heart disease is by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Current research shows that people with poor cardiovascular health are also at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. It has never been more important to focus on your heart health!
When we take care of our hearts as part of our self-care, we set an example for those around us to do the same. Inspire and motivate yourself and those you love to make heart health a regular part of your self-care routine! In general someone with good cardiovascular health will have good weight control, eat a proper diet, refrain from smoking, is physically active, gets consistent sleep, and has good blood pressure.
A few things you can do starting today is to eat more fruits and vegetables, not smoke, get 30 min of exercise each day (Bend is beautiful, go check it out!), and have a good nighttime routine that doesn’t involve TV or looking at your phone.
Another thing that will help your heart is drinking water. Keeping the body hydrated helps the heart pump blood through the blood vessels to the muscles more easily. This helps the muscles work efficiently. Dehydration can also contribute to muscle fatigue, making you more prone to injury.
What else can I do?
As important as lifestyle and nutrition are for your health, strength and aerobic training are just as vital to improve heart health. The results of a 2019 study involving 13,000 people (average age was 47) suggest that people who do an hour of strength training per week have a 40-70% lower risk of heart attack and stroke compared to those who don’t. Strength training helps you build more lean muscle and burn more energy. This helps reduce excess fat and improve blood flow both of which link to greater heart health. All you have to do is find small ways to move and work your body. even 10 min a day of strength training will benefit you!
Specific Exercises that will Improve Heart Health
You can make your heart healthier by increasing your heart rate and bringing it close to at least 80% of its maximum potential. This can be achieved through high-intensity exercises and workout routines that make your heart pump blood. Squat jumps are a great example for this and easy to do at home since no equipment is required!
- First, stand with feet shoulder width and knees slightly bent.
- Bend your knees and descend to a full squat position.
- Engage through the quads, glutes, and hamstrings and propel the body up and off the floor, extending through the legs.
- Now, descend and control your landing by landing with bent, “soft”, knees.
- REPEAT! Try to do 10-15 squat jumps in a row, rest 1 minute in between, and repeat 2-3 times.
Combo Exercises: Skipping, Butt Kicking, and Lateral Shuffles
- These exercises are great to do in your backyard, back and forth in your living room or hallway, or even at the dog park while your dog is getting it’s exercise too!
- You can start with skipping, then move on to jogging with bending your knees like you are trying to kick your own butt, then get some lateral movements in with moving sideways, and/or get real fancy with doing the grapevine/carioca.
- Try doing 4 lengths of each exercise and see if you are out of breath when you are done! And if you are, you are working on your heart health!
Want to see these exercises in action? Check out our video below!
These are just a few exercises that will help improve heart health. Unfortunately, injuries happen that may keep you sidelined for an extended period of time. Whether you’ve had surgery or you’ve developed pain in the back, neck, knee, shoulder, various other joints or muscles, a Physical Therapist can help you get back on track. See a PT, get back to moving and stay heart healthy!
Click here to schedule an appointment with us today!
What our patients are saying…
“Resolve PT was the best physical therapy experience I’ve had in my life. After a really bad motorcycle accident, I spent a lot of time going to different physical therapists, always getting a negative prognosis, and felt pretty hopeless about the future of my limb. When I moved to Resolve, there was no sign of that negativity. Instead we slowly moved through from stretches to exercise, consistently feeling improvements. Now I’ve been painless and happy for more than a year. Thanks guys!” – Joe