Regular, physician-approved exercise is a highly effective way to fend off hypertension, strokes, heart attacks, and a variety of other serious and potentially fatal diseases. What’s more — and contrary to what many people believe — heart-friendly exercising doesn’t need to involve strenuous exertion for hours each day. According to an analysis of 22 studies that included more than 320,000 adults, people who engaged in moderate exercise for just 15 minutes a day tended to live three years longer than those who were inactive.
“We tend to take our hearts for granted until something goes wrong and we’re forced to make a dramatic change to our lifestyle, or we end up in the hospital,” commented Dr. Allen Amorn, a cardiac electrophysiologist who has spent several years working in the hospital and health care industry. “Fortunately, as long as they are medically cleared to do so by their physician, it doesn’t take much for people to boost their heart health and give this astonishingly useful muscle a helping hand — and potentially increase both their quality and quantity of life.”
According to Dr. Allen Amorn, who is highly skilled in all heart rhythm related device implantations including traditional pacemakers, implantable cardioverter/defibrillators (ICDs), cardiac resynchronization (CRTs), left atrial appendage occlusion (LAAOs), leadless pacemakers, and subcutaneous ICD (S-ICDs), here are three exercises to boost heart health:
Regular, brisk walking — as opposed to a leisurely stroll — is a remarkably simple, yet highly effective way to boost heart health; especially for older adults and seniors. Commented Dr. Amorn: “Walking as a form of aerobic exercise lowers the risk of heart attack, reduces LDL cholesterol, increases HDL cholesterol, lowers blood pressure, and can help manage weight. It’s safe, inexpensive, and fun alone, with a friend or as part of a group.”
Jumping in the pool and enjoying a moderate, refreshing lane swim is another heart-friendly exercise. Commented Dr. Allen Amorn, who has a special interest in complex catheter ablation including atrial fibrillation, ventricular tachycardia, and post MAZE atrial flutter: “To keep things interesting, and also to optimize the benefits and develop different muscle groups along with the heart, swimmers can mix things up. For example, they can do back crawls one day, front crawls the next, and so on.” An added benefit of lane swimming is that the properties of water causes less strain on your joints; thus, swimming is an excellent option for those who struggle with back and knee pain.
Here’s some wonderful news for people who dread the thought of running: research at St George’s University, Grenada suggests that lifting weights could be better for heart health than jogging. And if that wasn’t inspiring enough, separate research at the University of Iowa found that lifting weights for less than an hour per week (and not necessarily in one session) can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by 40–70 percent. Commented Dr. Amorn: “When most people think of lifting weights, they picture spending hours in the gym and over-exerting themselves. But just a couple of sets of bench presses, at an appropriate weight and with the proper technique, can be highly effective.”
Allen Amorn’s Final Thoughts
The heart beats about 100,000 times a day, and pumps around 1.5 gallons of blood per minute. In fact, except for the cornea, every cell in the body is dependant on getting blood from the heart. Concluded Dr. Allen Amorn: “The heart does a tremendous amount of hard work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. People who follow a physician-approved program of regular exercise — which may include walking, lane swimming and weight training — give their heart, and their health, a vital and well-deserved helping hand.”