There are many benefits that come along with regular exercise; I could probably go on all day. However, since we’re sticking to heart health tips this month, here are three reasons exercise promotes a healthy heart.
3 REASONS EXERCISE PROMOTES HEART HEALTH
1. The Heart is a Muscle and It’s Meant to be Worked
The heart is a Muscle, and It’s Meant to be Worked - Just like every other muscle in the body, the more the heart is worked (within limitations), the better it functions and the stronger it gets. Exercise, especially cardio, gets the heart rate up, making it pump harder. This basically trains the heart to pump more blood out with each beat, meaning it becomes more efficient at doing its job. Training the heart not to work so hard can help to lower your resting heart rate and normalize blood pressure.
2. Use it Or Lose It
This one ties in with number one, again the heart is a muscle, and the more we use, the stronger it gets. However, leading a sedentary lifestyle (i.e. lack of exercise) runs the equivalent risk as smoking when it comes to heart disease. A lack of exercise causes the heart to become less efficient, which has the opposite effect of regular exercise and increases the chances of getting high blood pressure and atherosclerosis (clogged arteries).
3. Exercise Helps to Lower Stress
Reiterating last week’s #wellnesswednesday tip, lowering stress is a key component to heart health. Stress increases the hormone, epinephrine (adrenaline), which causes blood vessels to constrict, which then causes blood pressure to increase. Short term stress is normal and utterly unavoidable. It’s when the body stays in this “fight or flight” mode that the heart gets burned out, so to speak. Exercise lowers stress by releasing endorphins (chemical messengers) that relieve pain and elevate mood. Regular exercise is known to reduce anxiety, depression, improve self-esteem and improve a sense of well-being. *However, it is important to note that OVER-exercising can increase stress as it’s extremely hard on the body. As I mention quite often, everyBODY is different, and there should be treated uniquely. It’s key to listen to your body and give it the time to rest and recover. It’s also important not to push yourself past your limits, not every type or level of exercise is good for everyone. Some benefit much more from milder workouts such as walking and yoga (although some styles of yoga can be pretty intense), while others benefit from more intense workouts like running, spinning or HIIT (high-intensity interval training). In both cases, it is best to get in both aerobic, and strength training as this promotes oxygen in the muscles and blood.
Three Tips to Get Moving
1. Start Slow
Start Slow - Go easy on yourself, start with where you’re at and know your limits. When we push ourselves past our limits and over-do it, it can, one, cause injury and hinder our progress. Two, it gives reason for us to get discouraged by leaving a bad taste in our mouths and giving us negative feelings towards working out.
2. Find Something You Enjoy!
Find Something You Enjoy! - Exercising shouldn’t feel like a punishment. If you dread your work out, it’s probably not the right one for you. Of course, at times, we all get that urge to stay cozy and warm on the couch rather than making a trip out into the cold to hit the evening yoga class, a run or the gym, but if once you’re there, you’re grateful you made it, you know it’s the right work out for you. There are so many different ways to exercise; the gym is not our only option. Dancing, walking, jogging, swimming, bike riding, yoga, pilates, and playing sports are all great ways to get in regular exercise that don’t require an expensive gym membership, or those awkward feelings when you’re trying figure how to use the equipment for the first time.
3. Listen to your Body
Listen to your body - I can’t say this one enough! Listening to your body is so important when it comes to exercise. Pushing ourselves past our limits and over-doing it can do more harm than good. Not every type of exercise is for everyBODY. As mentioned above, some benefit from milder workouts like hiking and yoga, while others benefit more from high-intensity workouts. This is where knowing your Ayurvedic Dosha comes in handy (more to come on that later).
Lastly, but most importantly, a little bit of exercise is better than none. Even just fifteen to twenty minutes of walking, three times a week can lower the risk of heart disease.