February Heart Healthy Exercise

Heart Healthy February: Exercise

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February is the second month of the year and a time to celebrate love, beauty, and power, particularly of the heart!

Did you know that in 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared the first American Heart Month to tackle heart disease in the United States? This has made February a time when all people can focus on their cardiovascular health. 

Nearly half of American adults have high blood pressure and don’t even know it! High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is when the force of blood flowing through the blood vessels is consistently too high.

Hypertension can lead to a plethora of health risks, including cognitive decline, vision loss, strokes, heart disease, or even heart failure. Furthermore, women and African Americans face unique risks when it comes to high blood pressure.

While the heart does not physically control or affect our feelings of love, it has been a symbol of that emotion since the 15th century. When we see or experience something we love, the brain releases feel-good chemicals that often cause the heart to beat faster.

The heart affects every part of the body. By living a healthy lifestyle, you can help keep your blood pressure in a healthy range and lower your risk for heart disease and stroke. 

Heart-healthy exercise

Being physically active is one of the most effective ways to strengthen your heart muscle. John Hopkins cites 3 types of exercise as being the best to support a healthy heart – aerobic exercise, resistance training or strength work, and stretching & balance.

Aerobic exercise includes things like brisk walking, cycling, swimming, or even dancing. These exercises improve circulation, which can help lower blood pressure.

In an ideal world, we should try to do 30 minutes of aerobic exercise 5 days a week, but even a few times during the week is good if you are doing it consistently. Movin’ & Groovin’ Through the Ages and Energy Up Adaptive Fitness are two great examples of aerobic classes.

Resistance training or strength work does not affect the heart directly but is equally important for heart health because carrying a lot of body fat is a risk factor for heart disease. These types of exercises can use free weights, resistance bands, or even your own body weight.

Strength work should happen twice a week, but not 2 days in a row. Our new LIIT: Low-Impact Interval Training incorporates weights to build muscle mass & tone your body, burn calories, improve bone density, and increase endurance.

Stretching, flexibility, and balance is another group of exercises that do not directly affect the heart. However, they are paramount in being able to continue other types of exercise. If we are not flexible or balanced, we run the risk of getting injured, which may then keep us from being able to exercise.

Stretching should happen every day to keep the joints flexible and the body limber. Our Wake Up Yoga Flow will help promote fluid movements, while Pilates for Core & Balance focuses on strengthening the core from various angles while incorporating balance and light strengthening exercises.

The following quick workout helps to release negative energy and allow for the flow of positivity throughout your body and your day!

Make sure you have a glass of water nearby and let’s go!

This video leads you through Clap Walk & Heart Saver. You’ve likely seen these before – they are certainly a couple of my favorite!

Clap Walk helps to improve the brain-body connection, increases balance & coordination, enhances brain activity, and improves memory as well as cardio output.

Heart Saver helps to relieve stress, depression & anxiety, plus massages the spine by releasing cerebral spinal fluid to lubricate the spine.

What is your favorite type of exercise to maintain your heart health? Let us know in the comments!

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