Your heart is central to your body's functioning, and your healthy life. Everyone needs to keep their hearts healthy through exercise, but not all exercises are equally good for your heart.
Your cardiovascular system needs steady activity that is strenuous, but not so strenuous that you tire yourself out or hurt yourself. Pushing yourself too hard is equally as bad as not exercising at all.
In order to promote a healthy heart, you'll need to train your heart to be comfortable with prolonged strenuous activity. Productive cardiovascular workouts take about twenty minutes, with time for warm up and cool down.
Living an active lifestyle
Intentional exercise at the gym or outside is great, but there's no real substitute for living a truly active lifestyle.
Those who garden, clean, walk to run errands, or have activity-intensive work lives are more likely to keep their heart healthy for the long-term.
People who stay active in general are healthier than those who exercise regularly, but sit in front of a computer all day.
Hiking and Cross-Country Skiing
The more you exercise, the more blood your heart needs to pump through your body. The more muscles you use while you exercise, the harder your heart has to work in order to get the blood where it needs to go.
Hiking and cross country skiing both require your arms, legs, and core to be working hard in order to propel you forward.
To get the full effect on hiking, though, you'll want to bring poles to get your arms moving.
Similarly, running utilizes the whole body and thus is a great way to build up your cardiac stamina.
Running can be difficult on the knees and feet, so be sure before you begin running that you don't have any latent injuries there, and be certain to have proper running shoes.
For new runners, start at a brisk walk and add a few minutes of running each day until you can run comfortably.
Elliptical machines are a great alternative to running, if it is cold or your knees won't stand for it.
Core workouts like Pilates make you strengthen the muscles at your center.
Working on these muscles also helps with blood flow and maintaining a healthy heart!
If you're not one for getting all sweaty and smelly, swimming is a great way to use all your muscles and get a great workout without appearing disgusting.
Like running and cross-country skiing, swimming uses all of your body.
When you're in the water, you naturally regulate your breathing to healthy intervals too.
There you have it! Enjoy working towards a healthy heart. And remember, for cardio workouts, it's suggested that you maintain strenuous activity for 20 minutes, with 5 minutes warm up and 5 minutes cool down.
Before you start, make sure you talk to your doctor about what an appropriate level of activity is good for your age, health, and fitness condition.
And of course, keep in mind that an active lifestyle is the best way towards a healthy heart.