You knew this was coming. We have covered all the other aspects of maintaining a healthy heart this month. A final key component of cardiovascular fitness is regular exercise.
Exercise not only improves your heart health, but also brain health, muscle and bone health, diabetes, and improves arthritis. Beyond those, it also reduces stress, boosts moods, increases your energy, and can improve your sleep. And exercise prevents death from any cause (“all cause mortality”).
The benefits of exercise come from improving blood flow and reducing inflammation and blood sugar levels. They come from moving your muscles (including your heart muscle) and the push and tug on your bones by your muscles makes them stronger.
There are four basic types of exercise for you to embrace for overall fitness:
Endurance (brisk walking, jogging, yard work, dancing, aerobics, cycling, swimming)
Strength (climbing stairs, carrying groceries, lifting weights, using a resistance band or your body weight, Pilates)
Balance (standing on one foot, Tai Chi)
Flexibility (stretching, yoga)
Don't forget, all exercise counts, even if it's not doing a sport or in a gym. Weekend hikes, walking to the store and doing household chores all count toward your weekly exercise goal.
Regular exercise improves:
Reduces cardiac mortality by 31% in middle aged men who previously had a heart attack.
Reduces blood pressure in people with hypertension (high blood pressure).
Can improve physical function and quality of life in people with Parkinson’s disease.
Reduces changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Improved mental functions by increasing brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is involved in learning and memory.
Increases the size of the part of the brain for memory and learning (the "hippocampus"); this was shown mostly with aerobic exercise.
Muscle and bone health:
Muscle & bone health:
Regular physical activity can help maintain strong muscles and bones; this is particularly true for strength exercises.
Help maintain muscle mass and bone density.
Better insulin sensitivity and HbA1C values (the marker of glycemic control). Exercise does this because by contracting your muscles, you’re fueling them with sugar in your blood. This helps to manage blood sugar levels better than without exercise.
PRO TIP: And don’t forget that balance exercises and Tai Chi can help prevent falls.
You don’t need to go overboard on exercise to get these amazing health results. As little as 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 days/week is enough. And this is something most of us can do, no equipment needed.
Recipe: Coconut Water Refresher
1 cup coconut water
2 cups watermelon
½ tsp lime juice
1 dash salt
1 cup ice
2 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
Blend the first four ingredients until well mixed. Add ice and pulse until ice is crushed.
Pour into glasses or water bottle and add chia seeds. Shake/stir before drinking.
Tip: The chia seeds add extra fiber, protein, and omega-3s.
Stay healthy and stay hydrated!
Have a healthy week!