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  • Carol Michaels

Improve Heart Health Through Exercise

Cardiologists have been studying how to promote health and elasticity of the heart muscle. Studies show that to improve heart muscle health, the following activities should be performed a minimum of four to five times a week for at least 30 minutes.

  • one 30-minute high-intensity interval training session, such as a “4 x 4” that includes a 4-minute cardiovascular interval followed by 3 minutes of recovery, repeated 4 times

  • one low-intensity recovery session on the day after the HIIT session

  • one 1-hour moderate-intensity session, such as tennis, aerobic dancing, walking or biking

  • one or two weekly strength training sessions on a separate days from, or after, the endurance sessions

Dr. Levine, a principal investigator at UT Southwestern states: “Based on a series of studies performed by our team over the past 5 years, this ‘dose’ of exercise has become my prescription for life. I think people should be able to do this as part of their personal hygiene—just like brushing your teeth and taking a shower.”

“When the muscle stiffens, you get high pressure and the heart chamber doesn’t fill as well with blood. In its most severe form, blood can back up into the lungs. That’s when heart failure develops.”

Exercise can decrease the risk of developing heart disease which affects over one in three Americans. Exercise can reduce bad cholesterol, blood pressure, and helps with weight control. A good exercise program can also help decrease fatigue and shortness of breath which will enable you to maintain your activities of daily living and the sports that you enjoy. Not only does exercise decrease the risk of heart disease, it improves quality of life. Of course, age related heart changes may still occur, such as arrhythmias, lipid profile changes, and insulin sensitivity, but these can be delayed or sometimes prevented by staying active. Lastly, exercise helps to reduce stress which is correlated with heart issues. Make sure to add resistance training to your aerobic exercise routine because it also has heart healthy benefits. Resistance training increases blood flow and may lead to longer lasting blood pressure control and it also increases muscle mass which will help in weight control.

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