The Importance of Exercise For Our Heart

The Importance of Exercise For Our Heart

by Sophie Harrison | 30th Sep 2021

Yesterday was World Heart Day, which is a day dedicated to raise awareness and educate on how we can improve our heart health and prevent the risk of heart disease. There are several lifestyle factors that can influence the health of your heart, including daily exercise! 

A sedentary lifestyle, characterized by consistently low levels of physical activity, is now recognized as a leading contributor to poor cardiovascular health, and unfortunately across the world around 1 in 4 adults do not meet the global recommended levels of physical activity.  

Current recommendations by the WHO for adults include:

Adults aged 18–64 years

  • should do at least 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity or at least 75–150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity; or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous-intensity activity throughout the week. Include muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week, as these provide additional health benefits.

Adults aged 65 years and above

  • Same as for adults but should include varied multicomponent physical activity that emphasizes functional balance and strength training at moderate or greater intensity, on 3 or more days a week, to enhance functional capacity and to prevent falls.

So yes, physical activity is beneficial for our overall cardiovascular health but there are some other benefits that are important to note!

Being regularly physical active will also: 

  • improve muscular and cardiorespiratory fitness;
  • improve bone and functional health;
  • reduce the risk of hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, various types of cancer (including breast cancer and colon cancer), and depression;
  • reduce the risk of falls as well as hip or vertebral fractures; and
  • help maintain a healthy body weight.

Does intensity of exercise matter? 

There are many different forms of exercise that we can include during our day including physical activity during work,  transport to get to and from places, or as part of our leisure time. Both moderate and vigorous intensity physical activity are important to improve heart health!

Moderate physical activity includes things like a 

  • Brisk walk
  • Riding a bike
  • Doing activities around the house like cleaning and gardening

You should feel somewhat breathless but you should still be able to hold a conversation or talk. 

More vigorous activities

  • Running
  • Skipping
  • Circuit training

You may slightly more breathless and it might be a bit harder to hold a conversation or talk.

Strength activities

  • Bodyweight or lifting weights
  • Yoga
  • Lifting during work 

Tips on how you can incorporate physical activity into your daily routine

Remember! This can be broken up into short small bouts that are manageable throughout the day.

Simple ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine include: 

  • Why not take the stairs instead of the lift
  • Get out into the fresh air on your lunch break and take a short walk or with the return to office why not incorporate walking meetings to your office life!
  • Getting of a stop or two earlier on the Dart, Luas or bus on your commute
  • Join a gym, spin or Crossfit class
  • Local park runs
  • Get the family together and get out of the house for a walk and some fresh air 

Pick something you enjoy! Think outside the box and try new things- tennis, hiking, gymnastics, dancing- whatever moves you is good enough for your heart!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Don't forget, fuelling yourself properly with nutritious healthy meals is essential to get the most out of any exercise plan. If you're looking to make the first steps towards improving your nutrition alongside exercise, why not book in for a free nutrition consultation and we can give you a call and help you get started when you're ready!

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