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Workout Wednesday: How Exercise Benefits Your Heart


It’s really no secret that exercise is good for you. It’s also no secret that exercise can improve your heart health. Many people don’t realize how it does, and others aren’t really sure how it happens. No worries, folks. The explanation is pretty simple.

Inactivity–or, the lack of exercise–is one of the major causes of heart disease. Regular exercise works to strengthen your heart muscle, which improves its overall health, thereby lowering your risk for certain heart-related diseases.

Exercise provides a number of benefits to your heart. Overall strength is only one of them.

Exercise and Your Heart

The American Heart Association recommends that everyone get at least 30 minutes of moderate intense exercise every day of the week. Just what are the benefits of this?

  • It improves your cholesterol and fat levels
  • Regular exercise helps reduce inflammation in your arteries
  • It helps your heart work better
  • Exercise can also lower your blood pressure and help keep it at a healthy level
  • Regular exercise may also lower your risk for stroke

The best thing to remember? Some physical activity is better than nothing, but the more you exercise, the higher the health benefits will be.

How Cardio Affects Your Heart

Cardiovascular exercise has the biggest impact on your heart health. So, what exactly happens when you’re doing cardio? As you exercise, blood flow moves toward muscles that are working and away from those that aren’t.

Photo Credit: ADAM Inc./NYT

Your heart, then, sees an increase in blood flow returning to it, and adapts to that larger volume. Over time, your left ventricle grows larger to accommodate more blood, but also to pump for blood per beat–even when you’re resting! Perhaps the best part is that cardio eventually lowers your resting heart rate, which helps take stress off your heart.

Strength Training and Heart Health

When most people think of strength training, they probably think of bigger muscles. Did you know that it can help boost your heart health, too?

Every time you lift or pump, your muscles are contracting. When this happens, the blood vessels in your muscle are being closed, which increase blood pressure and the amount of work your heart has to do to get blood flowing.

Sounds a little off-putting, doesn’t it? Don’t worry, though. Your heart also adapts to this by thickening your left ventricle wall, and because it’s natural adaptation, it’s improving your heart health, not hindering it.

Making Exercise a Habit

I know how hard it can be to commit to an exercise routine. I spent years giving myself the “I’ll start tomorrow” promise before I finally jumped in. If you’ve passed the excuses and are ready to jump in yourself, you have any number of exercise routines at your disposal.

If you’re new to the exercise arena, or are just switching to a new routine or form of exercise, consult your healthcare provider first.

Making exercise a habit takes a commitment to keep at it consistently. Make that commitment. After that, you’re halfway there. Find a time for your exercise routine that best fits your schedule and commit to that as well.

Whether you’re working out alone, with a buddy, or even in a group, you’ll still be improving your overall heart health. After all, that’s at least part of the reason why you started exercising in the first place, right?

Supplements for Heart Health

Regular exercise is just one way to support your heart. A healthy diet can go a long way as well. So can natural supplements. There are a wide range of different ones that may help with everything from keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol levels healthy to keeping your arteries and blood vessels healthy as well.

A few of my favorite heart healthy supplements are below:

What has regular exercise done for your heart? We’d love to hear your story! Please leave us a comment below.

Featured Image Credit: mo1229 via Flickr.com.