Work your Toughest Muscle!
The Benefits of Regular Exercise
There are endless reasons to exercise: increased energy levels, improved self-confidence and a slimmer body, to name a few. But exercise goes beyond just the physical rewards. It can also keep your heart strong and working in peak condition!
A strong heart can more easily pump oxygen-rich blood to every organ in your body. Adequate blood flow and circulation is crucial for your body to function properly.
High blood pressure causes your heart to work harder and can affect blood flow to your heart.
“Sedentary people are 35 % more likely to develop high blood pressure than active people,” says sports scientist, Kathy McQuaide of the Sports Science Institute of South Africa.
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa, a bout of moderate exercise helps lower your blood pressure for up to three hours afterwards, while a few months of regular exercise can drop your blood pressure by up to 10 %.
“Regular exercise can help lower bad cholesterol levels, and improve good cholesterol levels, even more so than medication,” says Cape Town-based cardiologist, Dr Adrian Horak.
Good cholesterol (HDL) works by flushing out bad cholesterol, reducing your risk for heart disease.
CRP is a sign of inflammation in the body. The higher the levels of CRP in your blood, the higher your risk for heart disease and other inflammatory conditions.
(and help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight)
Carrying extra weight, especially around your mid-section, can put you at an even greater risk for heart problems. Losing weight can also lower your risk for diabetes and bone disease like arthritis.
People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to develop heart disease than people without the condition.
Keep your heart pumping!
Quick daily walks can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels and reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. To increase your daily step quota, use the stairs instead of the lift, try to take a quick walk during your lunch break or take walk after supper.
Swimming can strengthen your heart and boost your overall fitness. It also makes your heart pump more efficiently, which means better blood flow throughout your body.
Start off slowly with as many laps as you can in five minutes. Then, work your way up, mixing up your strokes and speeds. Add water aerobics to your routine to keep it fresh and interesting.
Waltzing away, whether if with a partner, in a group, or on your own, can help you stay physically and mentally fit.
Whether you’re dancing competitively or socially, dancing can enhance your muscle tone, strength and flexibility. It can also reduce stress, anxiety and depression, which is good for your heart.
Pumping iron works every muscle in your body, including your heart. Build strength and keep your heart happy by lifting light.
Start off with two to five kilogram dumbbells. Try different techniques and positions. Then, slowly work your way up to heavier weights. Never rush into it or you may injure yourself. Use advice of a fitness instructor if you are unsure about how to lift weights properly.
Don’t underestimate the power of that downward dog pose! While it may not seem like a heart-pumping physical activity, yoga can boost your heart health and overall well-being. It has been shown to improve heart rate, treat arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats) and reduce inflammation.
Inflammation can damage your heart muscle, which can up your risk for heart attack and other cardiovascular events.
Strike a pose and join a yoga class, or if you prefer, you can get started at home – there are tons of YouTube videos to get you going!