Dr. Jeffrey Morgan — Exercise is Crucial for Maintaining a Healthy Heart

For a muscle that is the center of your cardiovascular system, the heart’s role in your overall health cannot be overstated. As is the case with any other muscle in your body, nature’s law of use it or lose it applies perfectly to your heart. In other words, to keep your heart at optimal health, you need to exercise.

Dr. Jeffrey Morgan, a cardiothoracic surgeon specializing in heart transplants and left ventricular assist devices (LVAD) recommends a weekly regimen of moderate-intensity exercise that totals 150 minutes. This can be broken down to roughly 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Your weekly workout routine should be varied and cover many exercise types to reduce heart disease and stroke risks.

Aerobics for the Heart

Aerobic exercises, or cardio, get a lot of praise from the American Heart Association (AHA). Jeffrey Morgan MD, attributes this to the versatility of aerobics and their compatibility with every age, weight, body shape, and physical ability. Cardio exercises lower blood pressure, keep the weight manageable, and reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in the blood. They vary in intensity from brisk walking to cycling and playing sports such as basketball, tennis, and soccer. Even hobbies such as gardening, dancing, and swimming count as cardio. According to a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, regular activities like gardening cut down the risk of heart disease by 30 percent. So, you can sweat your way to a healthy heart while enjoying your favorite pastime.

Strength Training

Add some strength exercises, or resistance training as they’re sometimes called, to your weekly workout to build up your muscle size, endurance, and power. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises doing resistance exercises twice a week to raise your HDL (good) cholesterol, boost your metabolism and protect your body from injuries. Dr. Jeffrey Morgan recommends working on all your major muscle groups with special focus on the chest, shoulders, arms, abs, legs, hips, and back. Unlike strenuous bodybuilding regimens, strength training can be as simple as doing pushups, squats, and sit-ups, using resistance bands, and doing free weightlifting. Each exercise should be done in a set of eight to 12 repetitions.

Balance and Stretching Exercises

Workout systems such as yoga, Pilates, and tai chi may not boost your heart health directly, but they will improve your overall balance and flexibility, prevent muscle cramps, and alleviate joint pain. That said, with a flexible and rejuvenated body, you’ll be able to do the other cardio and resistance exercises that benefit your heart. Jeffrey Morgan MD recommends doing yoga poses as a warm-up before your regular exercises. The stretches and balance exercises will work to protect you from exercise injuries and muscle damage during high-intensity workouts. The best part is, you can do those poses and stretches anytime and anywhere.

Dr. Jeffrey Morgan’s Final Thoughts

Even if you don’t have enough time in your busy schedule to squeeze in half an hour of exercise, you can still incorporate exercise in your daily life. Normal activities that you mindlessly do every day can be turned into moderate-intensity workouts that keep heart disease at bay. Some of these daily exercises that work your heart include:

● Do brisk walks even when you’re not in a hurry.

● Ditch the elevator and climb the stairs instead.

● Take a walk during a break or lunch hour.

● Do your housework at a faster pace. Time yourself and make sure to finish your tasks quicker each time.

● Spend more time on the lawn mowing and raking.

Dr. Jeffrey Morgan

Dr. Jeffrey Morgan is a cardiothoracic surgeon specializing in heart transplants and left ventricular assist devices (LVAD).

Dr. Jeffrey Morgan

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Professor of Surgery & Surgical Development of the Advanced Heart Failure Center of Excellence at Baylor College of Medicine

Dr. Jeffrey Morgan

Dr. Jeffrey Morgan is a cardiothoracic surgeon specializing in heart transplants and left ventricular assist devices (LVAD).

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