Modern lifestyle is fast turning sedentary with increasing reliance on technology and availability of better facilities. While one may feel comfortable getting everything at their doorstep, the inactive lifestyle is gradually affecting our overall well-being. It is especially taking a toll on our heart health and raising risk of cardiovascular ailments. This silent impact can be deadly if we aren’t careful. It is important to take out time for exercise every day for keeping your heart healthy and boosting overall well-being. Among the best and safest exercises for your heart are brisk walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, aerobics, treadmill etc. One must remember not to exert heart with heavy exercises that you are not accustomed to. Heavy weight lifting, or exercising for more than one hour daily can be harmful to your heart and can even raise risk for sudden cardiac death. (Also read: Sitting for too long? 5 exercises to reverse ill effects of prolonged sitting)
Sedentary lifestyle risky for heart health
“One of the major causes of heart disease is sedentary lifestyle. Exercise plays an important role in maintaining heart health. The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of weekly 150 minutes or daily 30 minutes of physical exercise for prevention of heart diseases and maintaining overall heart health. The simplest exercise which is recommended is 30 minutes of daily brisk walking. Other exercises include jogging, cycling, swimming, aerobics, treadmill etc,” says Dr Pavan Kumar P Rasalkar, Consultant Interventional Cardiology, Fortis Hospital, Nagarbhavi, Bangalore.
“However, it should be remembered that over exercising, especially heavy weight lifting, or exercising more than an hour daily can be harmful to the heart as it can precipitate heart diseases including sudden cardiac death. Hence, low to moderate intensity exercise for 30 mins daily at least 5 days a week goes a long way in keeping your heart healthy,” cautions Dr Pavan.
Dr Pranay Anil Jain, Senior Consultant – Cardiology, Ramkrishna CARE Hospitals, Raipur shares five exercises that can help strengthen your heart if you are leading a sedentary lifestyle.
Exercises for sedentary lifestyle
1. Brisk walking
It is a good exercise that does not require specific arrangements and can be done at any place and time. If done regularly for at least 30 minutes for at least 5 days a week, it significantly improves the functional capacity and endurance of the heart. Similar effects are seen with jogging and running for at least 90 minutes per week.
Cycling is a good form of exercise, it improves and strengthens thigh muscles, is good for knee joints and reduces plaque deposition in heart muscle. It also improves heart muscle strength.
3. Weight training
This helps in building muscles, reducing fat deposition, mobilizing fat and burning it. It helps in reducing weight. The overall effect is you have a muscular lean body with less fat and healthy heart.
4. Interval training
It is a form of exercise that mixes short bursts or heavy-intensity exercise with rest, like one minute of running followed by three minutes of rest. It has been proven to reduce weight and improve heart strength.
Swimming is usually considered a leisure activity and is a good form of exercise for whole body muscles including the heart. It improves cardiac muscle function, metabolism and reduces atherosclerosis of cardiac arteries.
Dr. Kumar Kenchappa, Consultant – Interventional Cardiology, Manipal Hospital Hebbal suggests the following exercises for heart health:
– Brisk walking from 45 min to 1 hour at least 6 days a week.
– Weight training – This can helps in burning the fat in our body and will contribute to muscle build-up as well.
– Swimming is another good exercise that is equivalent to aerobics which helps in strengthening of heart
– There are also new concepts coming up called interval training or intermittently high-intensity exercises. This training helps improve HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein) and helps increase metabolism
– Cycling is considered equivalent to jogging or brisk walking. Cycling not only helps in improving overall physical health, it also is beneficial for mental health
– And last but not least Yoga, which can help reduce stress level