The best exercises for heart health

The best exercises for heart health

05 Mar 2022

The need for exercise often conjures up images of physically strong bodies; we think of muscular arms and shoulders, well-defined abs, and regularly conditioned legs. However, exercise does more than just bless us with desirable physiques. Our organs can benefit from physical activity too, especially our hearts.

There’s a reason why cardio, short for cardiovascular exercise otherwise known as aerobic exercise, is an integral part of a complete physical regimen. Vigorous exercise for heart health that gets our pulse up, serves several purposes aside from weight loss and flushing out toxins by getting a good sweat. Aside from keeping hearts healthy and happy, exercise for heart health has mental and emotional benefits, too; these kinds of workouts have the potential to boost mood, encourage mental clarity, serve as healthy stress busters, and improve concentration and attention (5).

The importance of learning about the best exercise for heart health cannot be underestimated, and this article explains why this is so. Ultimately, it also discusses other healthy lifestyle choices one can make to complement exercise for heart health, such as taking the right supplements specifically formulated to support and maintain good cardiovascular function.

The Human Heart

The human heart supplies nutrition to our cells, tissues and other organs by pumping oxygen-rich blood throughout our body (1).

Oxygenated blood is blood that has been supplied with oxygen (1). After carrying nutrients all over the body, the deoxygenated blood is carried back to the lungs where the carbon dioxide in our blood is replaced with oxygen (3). This process is vital to your body, as it is responsible for making sure your body functions normally (2).

The heart is composed of the following parts:

  • Heart walls, which are layers of muscular tissues that protect the heart from damage, and walls that divide the heart into the left and right sides. These muscles contract and relax to send blood throughout the body (4).
  • The heart’s four chambers called the atria (found on the upper part of the heart) and the ventricles (found on the lower part of the heart) are responsible for the pumping of oxygenated and deoxygenated blood in and out of the heart (4).
  • The heart valves are similar to doors that open and close to allow the blood in our heart to flow through (4).
  • Blood vessels are a network of arteries, veins and capillaries that serve as the pathways of our blood all over our body (4).

A healthy lifestyle is key to maintaining and supporting our body’s cardiovascular health (5). However, as we continue to live packed and fast paced daily lives, the heart can be susceptible to a number of diseases if we are not careful. But managing your heart’s health is not impossible. Read on to find out how.

What Makes a Heart Healthy?

Heart health needs a consistently healthy and balanced lifestyle. Here are some tips you can look into when it comes to supporting our cardiovascular system’s health:

  • Avoid or quit smoking to minimize damage as smoking damages the blood vessels close to your heart and brain (7).
  • Get good quality sleep every night for at least seven hours each night to boost your heart’s health (5).
  • Keeping a healthy diet that is low in saturated and trans fats. Avoiding foods with high cholesterol and trans fats can help keep our hearts healthy (7).
  • Keeping your body moving at least 30 to 60 minutes daily can significantly help lower the risk of heart disease (5). Exercise can help lower cholesterol and lessen the chances of developing conditions that can strain your heart such as high blood pressure and diabetes (5).

Exercising is one of the most accessible ways to keep our heart healthy. A workout can be done at home or in designated workout places such as outdoor activity areas, without the need for fancy equipment. Read on to find out how staying active can keep your heart healthy.

Exercise for heart health

The best exercise for heart health

Regardless of age, level of physical fitness and whether one is addressing specific cardiovascular concerns or simply keeping healthy, making time to do exercise for heart health is important (8). There are three kinds of exercise for heart health that are easily incorporated in everyday fitness routines and are sustainable enough for consistency to be maintained:

Aerobic exercises

Aerobic exercise has long been considered the best exercise for heart health. Heart-pumping activities such as brisk walking, running, cycling, uphill hiking, kickboxing, swimming, using a jump rope, and doing most kinds of sports are all known to improve circulation and lower blood pressure—two benefits often associated with the basic standard of having good heart health (9). Thirty minutes of aerobic exercises at least thrice weekly is recommended for adults hoping to improve or maintain cardiovascular functioning (9).

Resistance training

Working out with weights, weight machines and resistance bands are commonly employed forms of resistance training. Sometimes called strength training, this kind of physical activity is considered to be another exercise for heart health because it cultivates stamina; and, in order to improve stamina, the heart needs to get stronger, too. Though resistance training does not raise heart rate the same way that aerobic exercise does, it does require a person to pay attention to the pace of their breathing and to work through the muscle and joint discomfort that often comes with it. Both these things demand that the heart work harder as it works together with the lungs and different muscle groups. This is particularly in order to be able to complete repetitions of specific movements during resistance training, as well as to endure burning sensations characteristic of this kind of workout.

Resistance training is often done to improve muscle definition and improve joint strength. This does have advantages for doing a host of good for the internal body such as raising good cholesterol and lowering bad cholesterol, both of which have repercussions on heart health (1),

Stretching, flexibility and balance exercises

Stretching and flexibility workouts as exercise for heart health are good partners to aerobic and resistance training. This is because a stable musculoskeletal foundation enables you to keep proper form throughout more demanding exercises, guarding you from injury and placing unnecessary stress on your cardiovascular system to keep you going strong (9).

Accompaniments to the best exercise for heart health

It’s clear that different kinds of physical activities form an important part of a complete exercise for heart health regimen. However, exercise is not a one sided coin; a well-balanced and nutritious diet completes the picture (10).

Wholesome foods

A healthy diet to accompany exercise for heart health can help keep the heart and whole body strong. Diets consisting of wholesome foods give you the energy you need before and during a workout, and helps the body recover from the physical strain it endures afterwards (11).

Healthy food is packed with nutrients such as vitamins and minerals that the body breaks down and turns into energy. Without these nutrients, it’s easy to feel too tired to even begin a workout, or that you may not have the strength to see an exercise routine through to the end. And while it’s ideal to always have access to healthy foods to eat during all your meals, the reality is that most individuals may only be able to eat well from time to time.

Vitamin and mineral supplements

With this health challenge being all too common among Australians, Vitable Australia steps in to fill in the gaps. The health brand provides high quality vitamin and mineral supplements that deliver the nutrients that we may fail to consume if our diets lack them. Though food remains to be the best source of nutrients necessary for us to make the most of beginning an exercise routine for heart health, supplements may be a good alternative for those who may find it difficult to eat healthily consistently.

Different supplements aid our health in different ways. Vitable Australia offers several that are specifically formulated to help protect and strengthen cardiovascular health, potentially helping your body be capable of handling the best exercises for heart health. Below are Vitable Australia’s supplements for heart health you might want to consider:

Astaxanthin

Astaxanthin is a naturally occurring red carotenoid that can be found in seafood such as salmon, trout and shrimp (12). Benefits of astaxanthin supplements include the maintenance and support of the body’s performance and endurance through its antioxidant properties (13). These functions work together to improve cardiovascular health.

Magnesium

The mineral magnesium is found in many green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds (14). A diet boosted with magnesium supplements can provide benefits such as improvement in muscular functions when exercising (15) as well as in enhanced heart health. With muscles that can endure more strenuous activity experienced during exercise for heart health and a heart that’s able to sustain them with enough oxygen and blood flow during exercise, your health will begin to show noticeable improvements.

Acetyl-L-Carnitine

Acetyl L-carnitine is naturally present in our body and plays an important role in the body’s many metabolic functions such as energy production (16). The benefits of this supplement include maintaining healthy energy levels and boosting muscular efficiency by transporting the necessary fatty acids to the mitochondria, producing energy that is concentrated in tissues like skeletal and cardiac muscles, necessary for exercise (16). Taking this supplement can help support your body’s metabolic rate and assist with post-exercise recovery.

Fish oil

Fish oil is mainly derived from oily fish like salmon, mackerel, and trout as well as shellfish, nuts and seeds (17). Fish oil supplements, combined with regular exercise for heart health, are found to improve cardiovascular health (18).

Vegan omega

Vegan omega is a supplementary source of omega-3 fatty acids derived from plant-based sources such as algae, flaxseed, beans, chia seeds, walnuts, and edamame (19). Veg Omega supplements are a vegan alternative that can help maintain cardiovascular health (18).

If you are looking to complete your new routine of exercise for heart health with vitamins and minerals curated for your daily needs, Vitable Australia may just be what you’re looking for. Vitable Australia offers a personalised vitamin subscription where you have the freedom to choose which daily vitamin packs to complement your lifestyle. VItable Australia offers vitamin delivery services, making prioritizing your health the most convenient it’s ever been.

*Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Vitamin and/or mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet.

References:

  1. Health Direct Content Team. “Heart”. Health Direct: Healthdirect.Gov.Au. Published March 3, 2019 on https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/heart. Accessed December 17, 2021.
  2. Government of Western Australia Department of Health Content Team. “How Your Heart Works”. Government of Western Australia Department of Health: Healthywa.Wa.Gov.Au. Published April 18, 2018 on https://www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/F_I/How-your-heart-works. Accessed December 17, 2021.
  3. Better Health Channel Content Team. “Circulatory system explained”. Better Health Channel: Betterhealth.Vic.Gov.Au. Published on https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/circulatory-system#the-heart. Accessed December 17, 2021.
  4. Cleveland Clinic Content Team. “Heart”. Cleveland Clinic: My.Clevelandclinic.Org. Published August 26, 2021 on https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/21704-heart. Accessed December 17, 2021.
  5. Better Health Channel Content Team. “Heart explained”. Better Health Channel: Betterhealth.Vic.Gov.Au. Published August 24, 2020 on https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/heart. Accessed December 17, 2021.
  6. Mayo Clinic Content Team. “Strategies to prevent heart disease”. Mayo Clinic: Mayoclinic.Org. Published October 26, 2019 on https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/skin-care/art-20048237. Accessed December 17, 2021.
  7. Lu, Z., Jiang, H. “Healthy heart, happy life”. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Ncbi.Nlm.Nih.Gov. Published September 2014 on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4248376/. Accessed December 17, 2021.
  8. The Heart Foundation Content Team. “Keeping your heart healthy”. The Heart Foundation: Heartfoundation.Org.Au. Published May 4, 2020 on https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/heart-health-education/keeping-your-heart-healthy. Accessed December 17, 2021.
  9. Australian Government Department of Health Content Team. “About physical activity and exercise”. Australian Government Department of Health: Health.Gov.Au.  Published May 6, 2021 on https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/physical-activity-and-exercise/about-physical-activity-and-exercise. Accessed December 18, 2021.
  10. John Hopkins Medicine Content Team. “3 Kinds of Exercise that Boost Heart Health”. John Hopkins Medicine: Hopkinsmedicine.Org. Published April 3, 2015 on https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/3-kinds-of-exercise-that-boost-heart-health. Accessed December 18, 2021.
  11. Mayo Health Clinic Content Team. “Eating and exercise: 5 tips to maximize your workouts”. Mayo Health Clinic: MayoClinic.Org. Published October 17, 2019 on https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20045506. Accessed December 18, 2021.
  12. Cleveland Clinic Content Team. “Should You Eat Before or After a Workout?” Cleveland Clinic: Health.CleavelandClinic.Org. Published September 30, 2021 on https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-to-eat-before-and-after-a-workout/. Accessed December 18, 2021.
  13. Choi, H. D., Youn, Y. K., & Shin, W. G. “Positive Effects of Astaxanthin on Lipid Profiles and Oxidative Stress in Overweight Subjects”. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Ncbi.Nlm.Nih.Gov. Published October 1, 2011 on https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21964877/. Accessed December 18, 2021.
  14. Brown, D. R., Gough, L. A., Deb, S. K., Sparks, S. A., & McNaughton, L. R. “Astaxanthin in Exercise Metabolism, Performance and Recovery: A Review”. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Ncbi.Nlm.Nih.Gov. Published January 18, 2018 on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5778137/. Accessed December 18, 2021.
  15. Health Direct Content Team. “Magnesium and your health”.  Health Direct: Healthdirect.Gov.Au. Published April 15, 2020 on https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/what-is-cholesterol. Accessed December 18, 2021.
  16. Nutrients Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand Content Team. “Magnesium”. Ministry of Health, Nutrients Reference Values: Nrv.Gov.Au. Nih.Gov. Published April 9, 2014 on https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/magnesium. Accessed December 18, 2021.
  17. National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements Content Team. “Carnitine”. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Ods.Od.Nih.Gov. Published March 29 2021 on https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Carnitine-HealthProfessional/. Accessed December 18, 2021.
  18. Mayo Clinic Content Team. “Fish oil”. Mayo Clinic: Mayoclinic.Org. Published December 8, 2020 on https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-fish-oil/art-20364810. Accessed December 18, 2021
  19. Hill, A. M., Buckley, J. D., Murphy, K. J., & Howe, P. R. “Combining fish-oil supplements with regular aerobic exercise improves body composition and cardiovascular disease risk factors”. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Ncbi.Nlm.Nih.Gov. Published May 2007 on https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17490962/. Accessed December 18, 2021.
  20. Rogerson, D. “Vegan diets: practical advice for athletes and exercisers”. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Ncbi.Nlm.Nih.Gov. Published September 13, 2017 on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5598028/. Accessed December 18, 2021.