The Do’s and Don’ts of Heart Healthy Exercise
It seems like we hear it every day: Exercise is amazing for your heart. It’s true! One of the best things you can do to improve your heart’s strength and performance is to introduce regular exercise into your routine. But is there a wrong way to approach fitness? It’s important to know the cardiovascular “do’s” and “don’ts” of fitness before you hit the gym or trail. Read more to discover the best and worst ways to get fit.
Where People Go Wrong
One of the most important things about taking on an exercise regimen is to do it at a safe pace. Especially for older adults, the strain of sudden intense activity can actually do more harm than good. For example, the Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) determined that falling was the leading cause of injury and death for adults over 65. And for your heart, it’s important to consult your doctor about physical activity if you have heart disease or you’re recovering from surgery. If you’ve been inactive for an extended period of time previously, or you’ve recently experienced a heart attack, you should work with your cardiologist on a safe approach to physical activity.
One mistake that many people make with exercise is running for long distances on pavement. Especially for older adults, this can lead to injury or painful joints. Pavement is harsh on your shins and knees especially. It’s also common for people to hear their doctor’s encouragement toward exercise and jump in too fast, pushing themselves to a dangerous intensity for their very first workouts. If your body is used to a very sedentary lifestyle, you could wind up hurt this way.
Tips for Safe Exercise
So, how do you exercise safely? One great way to stay safe is simply to know the warning signs of heart problems during exercise, especially if you already have heart disease. These signs include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Radiating jaw, neck, or arm pain (pressure-like)
You can discuss these cardiac warning signs with your cardiologist as well, because everybody’s body is different. Signs of heart attack in men and women tend to differ as well. Women are especially likely to ignore or excuse their symptoms as invalid, so remember that it’s always better to play it safe than sorry if you’re experiencing chest pains.
One great way to stay in shape and prevent overstraining your heart is interval workouts. This is a type of exercise in which you alternate the intensity of your workout in segmented intervals. This kind of workout can be especially helpful for senior adults because it allows the cardiovascular and respiratory system to recover throughout the workout. Research suggested that this type of exercise actually helped reverse aging within the cells.
Lower intensity exercises like yoga or swimming are also excellent choices if you’re looking to relieve pressure on the joints. These exercises are also known for stress relief, which is a major component of cardiovascular health. These programs are usually very inclusive for people with limited mobility, and you’re likely to find classes in your community that are tailored to your pace and intensity.
To learn more about your blood pressure, cholesterol or risk for heart disease, make an appointment today with the CardioVascular Group at www.cvgcares.com! If you’re starting a new workout program, don’t forget to consult your doctor if you have a history of heart disease.