Getting in a heart-healthy workout

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We often tend to take the power our hearts provide our bodies for granted, but startling trends over the past decade are indicating that we indeed are not providing our hearts the respect they deserve. According to The Heart Foundation, heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S., and the Mayo Clinic lists lack of exercise as a leading contributor to unhealthy cardiovascular activity. Even if you are an active person, you may not be performing the exercises that specifically cater to boosting heart health. From swimming a few laps a day around the pool to experiencing a relaxing massage, here are just a few exercise tips to provide the workout your heart needs to thrive:

Swimming

Whether you’re a world-class athlete or you haven’t left the couch in a week, swimming is a low-impact form of exercise that can help boost anyone’s heart health. The Cleveland Clinic lists swimming as one of the most accommodating forms of physical activity that specifically benefits the heart. It also reports that frequent swimmers are more likely to have lower heart rates, better blood circulation and improved blood pressure than non-swimmers. This is due to swimming’s ability to provide an exceptional aerobic workout for your body while putting little to no stress upon your joints and bones. In addition to swimming, a great exercise option to perform in the pool is water aerobics. From kicking and punching your way through the water to looping your arms in circular motions while treading water, these workouts prove another low-stress exercise that provides your heart with the cardio activity it needs.

Elliptical machines

It seems like every gym you go to has two kinds of members: those who are treadmill runners and others who use elliptical machines. But is one type of workout equipment better than the other one when it comes to heart health? According to the Mayo Clinic, elliptical machines may have the upper hand in comparison to your average treadmill. While both can provide your heart with a terrific aerobic workout, elliptical machines also provide sufficient exercise for both your upper and lower body, as many are equipped with poles to grab on to, so your arms get in on the workout action as well. Another distinct feature of elliptical machines is their ability to allow users to pedal backwards, which in turn can help provide for a better all-around lower body workout, especially for your hamstrings and calves. It’s also noted that elliptical machines are easier on your back, hips and knees, because you’re stepping through the air as opposed to jogging on a stationary surface or on the pavement.

Yoga

As more and more people continue to hop onto the yoga trend, research keeps coming out that supports this combination of stretching and meditation as an extremely healthy exercise for your body, especially for your heart. The American Heart Association agrees, as it reports that yoga can help potentially improve blood circulation while lowering your blood pressure and heart rate. Dr. M. Mala Cunningham, a psychologist and founder of Cardiac Yoga, spoke to the AHA about the wonders yoga can provide for cardiovascular health.

“Yoga is designed to bring about increased physical, mental and emotional well-being,” Cunningham said in a statement. “Hand in hand with leading a heart-healthy lifestyle, it really is possible for a yoga-based model to help prevent or reverse heart disease. It may not completely reverse it, but you will definitely see benefits.”

Massages

After you’re all done performing these heart-healthy exercises, why not treat yourself and your heart with a relaxing massage? Yes, a massage has been shown to be an excellent resource for improving your overall cardiovascular health, and the American Massage Therapy Association lists frequent massages as a means for helping manage blood pressure and cholesterol, two significant factors when it comes to heart disease. Even experiencing a massage to lower stress may help with lowering blood pressure and establishing a healthy heart rate, and if you find yourself too pressed for time to receive massage therapy sessions, perhaps a personal massager at home is just what the doctor ordered!

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