Being physically active is one of the keys to preventing heart disease. Here are some ideas to help us all get off the couch and get our blood pumping.
According to the CDC, we’re not in particularly good shape. Approximately every 40 seconds, someone in the US will die of a heart attack. In fact, right now heart disease is the number one killer across the word – yes, even more than the Coronavirus. This is due to a few reasons. Cigarettes still remain a culprit. There are some age related factors there. But by and large, we’re killing ourselves with a lack of movement and improper diets.
As much as we’d like to spend most of our days binging Narcos or Love Is Blind from our sofas, millions of years of evolution say we shouldn’t. We should be doing the opposite, in fact. We should be up and about, moving, exercising, and pumping our blood – fast.
Think about this: our body is made of miles and miles of blood vessels and arteries. You’d have to run several marathons back-to-back to cover their entire length – and hey, that might not be a bad idea. What’s so important about these vessels and arteries? They’re responsible for delivering oxygenated blood to your muscles and organs where it’s needed most. Better circulation means lower blood pressure, lower tension, lower anxiety and stress, and less chances of succumbing to the biggest killer out there, heart disease. And that depends on constant moving and exercise to get your heart rate up.
I know what you’re thinking: getting your heart rate up means going to a kickboxing class or a crossfit gym and doing burpees or hitting the heavy bag until you’re puking in the corner and crying for mercy. That’s simply not true. Our primitive ancestors were, shockingly, not going to Orange Theory and spin classes. And you don’t need to either. Aerobic exercise can be simply to be effective.
So what are the best exercises to get your heart rate up? With all the memberships and theories and fds out there, choosing aerobic activity can feel complicated and daunting. So let’s dive in and talk about a few right now. We’ll discuss several ideas on how to get your blood pumping – and your heart healthier in the process. It’ll be fun. I promise.
Tip #1: Jogging and walking.
Good old fashioned jogging and walking are perfect ways to get your heart rate up. They’re not sexy. You won’t develop a 6 pack overnight or a fancy shirt that tells the world how much you like to sweat. But you will be participating in one of physiologies great aerobic workouts. And you’ll be saving yourself hundreds of dollars a year on niche gym memberships.
Walking and jogging are low impact but highly effective. In fact, Harvard studies show that walking for 90 minutes a day can burn over 500 calories for people of average weight and even more for people suffering from obesity. Our bodies (and subsequently our hearts) were designed to work their best when put through steady, sustained movement. So even if you’re walking and don’t feel that high-intensity burn that we regularly associate with aerobic exercise, it’s there. If you want to dial the blood-pumping up a notch or two, choose a route with some inclines or push the treadmill a little faster. Sometimes getting your blood pumping just means reaching for a pair of sneakers and heading outside your door.
Tip #2: Yoga.
For some people physical limitations might keep them off the jogging trail. Others might stand to benefit from more peace and serenity and flexibility. Strike that, all of us could probably stand to benefit from some extra flexibility after sitting at our desks for eight hours a day.
For many, yoga is the perfect exercise. And no, it’s not just about being able to touch your toes or breathe deeper. Yoga – especially moving from pose to pose – will get your blood pumping. But more beats per minute isn’t the only heart benefit that comes with yoga. The movements actually help compress and decompress your veins, improving that valuable blood circulation that your heart and body needs. And A 2014 review of evidence published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found yoga was beneficial for the cardiovascular system and a person’s metabolism. Plus, when you start doing yoga, you get to say Namaste, which always sounds very impressive.
Tip #3: Weightlifting.
Weightlifting is an amazing aerobic exercise. Wait what? Isn’t blood pumping all about the cardio? Yes it is. And weightlifting is here to join the heart party. Muscle contraction increases your heart rate and your blood flow. And that muscle pump? That’s more than getting jacked for Friday nights. It’s blood getting to your muscles.
Weightlifting doesn’t mean powerlifting. Its benefits don’t mean that you need to squat 500 pounds or deadlift a Volkswagen. A weightlifting regimen that involves higher reps, lower weights, and interval training can do wonders for your heart rate and blood circulation. Plus, lifting weights comes with the added benefit of healthier joints and bones. Double plus – lifting weights gets you toned and ready for the beach.
Tip #4: Swimming.
Ever wondered why swimmers are in such great shape? It’s because they swim. A lot. Swimming isn’t just for being lazy by the pool. Water aerobics and swimming laps will get your heart going and your blood pumping. It’s also one of the few exercises that simultaneously works lots of different muscles.
Tip #4: Eat right.
I know – eating isn’t an exercise (if only we could be so lucky). Eating the right food, however, can be great for your blood circulation. Here are a few that can help.
Fish comes chock full of omega-3 fatty acids that promote cardiovascular health and improved blood circulation. But to reap the benefits, you’re going to want to focus on oily fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and tuna. And if you’re a vegetarian, grab some kale. It might not taste great, but it’s got omega-3 fatty acids. So suck it up.
Tea comes with lots of antioxidants, which, in turn, helps maintain cardiovascular health. And here’s some great news for green and black tea drinkers: you all win because both green and black tea deliver the goods.
There are lots of cardio workouts to get your blood pumping. This list merely scratches the surface. The important thing is to get out there and give one (or two) a try. You’ll improve your circulation. You’ll stimulate muscle growth. But you know what? You’ll feel a lot better. And that might be the most important benefit of all.
The views expressed in this podcast are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of LifeVantage or any other agency, organization, employer or company. The employee product experiences shared in this podcast are unique to the individual sharing his or her experience and are not a guarantee that any consumer will experience the same product results or benefits.