You may have heard of the saying, “the heart wants what the heart wants”, or maybe the more common one “listen to your heart”. Although not literal, these phrases prove how important this organ is to your body. As humans our main aim is survival, and your heart is an important part of your survival. Making sure that it is healthy should be your number one priority to ensuring that survival.
I’m sure you’ve heard it many a times that a good diet and exercise leads to a happier and healthier lifestyle. How so you ask? Well, you came to the right place because I’m here to tell you exactly that, and the important role your happy healthy heart plays in this. So let’s start with the basics: Your heartrate and what it means.
Now I’m sure you’ve felt your heart beating before, whether after a run or a surprise or even a scare, you find yourself feeling for your heart as it beats faster. This is your heart rate. As with any muscle in the body, working it out will make it better and stronger and in some cases bigger or smaller. Well the same rule applies to your heart. The more exercise you do, the faster and more often your heartrate goes up and down, the healthier it and you’ll be. How so? Well, when you take a deep breath in, your lungs fill up with air, this air moves through the lung tissue and into the bloodstream. Your heart is in charge of pumping this blood to the rest of your organs and systems in your body. The faster your heart pumps blood into your organs, the better they work. So by now you must realise that practicing increasing and decreasing your heart rate is important for the rest of your organs and overall your body. Now let’s look into ways you can do this effectively and have a lot’s of fun while doing it.
We’ve established that the heart is a muscle, when your heart rate increases from a resting state, the muscle is exercising at a more intense rate than before. As a result, the heart gains strength and resiliency through the effort. Whether your goals are gaining strength or weight loss, you can use your heart to track if the exercises you are doing are effective enough for your goals. Your resting heart rate as an adult is around 60 to 100 beats per minute, therefore your aim should be higher than this. However you must be careful, check your heart rate several times during your exercise to track how many BPMs (beats per minute) you are getting. You should easily be able to count these, if you can’t, your heart rate is much too high and it’s best you take a breather or a minute break to lower it. There are many great exercises you can do to get your heart rate up to a health promoting level.
Aerobic exercise also known as cardio is known for increasing your heart rate and helping you burn fat efficiently and quicker. The fast movements and small breaks in between cardio exercises ensure a higher heart rate for a prolonged time and therefore, a higher rate that your blood is pumped through out your system and to important organs such as your brain. Exercises like running or walking on the treadmill, cycling, swimming, using an elliptical trainer or an upper body focused trainer such as an air bike and even rowing are great and efficient aerobic exercises that will improve your heart and overall health.
Resistance training also known as strength training is great for those who aim to lose body fat. It is much easier for beginners who have difficulty with controlling their breath as these are slower movements that focus more on form rather than pace. However strength work has proven quite effective in burning body fat and giving people more toned and defined muscle mass. Strength work has also proven great at reducing belly fat which is a risk factor for heart disease. A combination of both cardio and strength training will help your heart and improve your fitness levels.
Stretching. Although stretching is not an exercise that improves your heart health, it is very important for your muscles. Not only can you avoid injury and muscle spasms when you stretch before an exercise but it is also very relaxing for your brain and body, and not to mention meditative and incredibly satisfying.
Remember it’s not just exercise that is good for your heart, good energy and good vibrations keep your stress levels down and are highly beneficial to your heart health. So remember to stretch, breath, relax and maybe even meditate before and after exercise and I guarantee you, you will feel good, energized and your heart will definitely thank you for it.