Almost 600,000 people die from heart disease in the United States each year. The saddest part about this statistic is that many of these deaths could have been prevented with a few simple lifestyle changes.
Increasing your level of physical activity is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself from heart disease, and as you’ll see, some activities are better than getting the job done than others. If you’re looking to keep heart disease at bay, these five exercises are for you.
Running is an inexpensive and easy way to fight heart disease. According to a 2014 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, even a five- to ten-minute daily run can reduce your risk of death from heart disease by 45%, regardless of age, sex, weight, or bad habits like smoking or excessive drinking! When it comes to running, it’s important to pace yourself and gradually add distance to avoid injury or burnout. Start with something easy, such as five minutes, and gradually increase your time each week. You’ll be running a marathon before you know it!
According to a study published by the British Medical Association, biking at least 20 miles each week can help reduce your risk of heart disease by 50%! If you’re a savvy cyclist, you can sneak those 20 miles into your routine without having to make extra time for them—biking to work or other destinations is a great way to accomplish this. Not only will it help strengthen your heart, but it will also help you spend less on gas.
Swimming is the perfect choice if you’re looking for a low-impact workout for your heart. According to a study from Harvard Medical School that compared heart health between different types of athletes, swimmers scored best, with walkers close behind them. When going for a dip, it’s important to keep in mind that it can be easy to overdo yourself and overshoot your target heart rate. This can be counterproductive to good heart health, so be sure to monitor your pulse regularly.
4. Weight Lifting
While most of the exercises associated with good heart health involve some sort of aerobic activity, weight training can also offer some big benefits. According to the American Heart Association, lifting weights helps increase respiratory function, which leads to a reduced risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. The organization recommends at least 60 minutes of strength training a week —although people with a history of heart problems should consult with their doctors before starting.
5. Jumping Rope
Jumping rope, like running, is another great cardio exercise that doesn’t require a lot of expensive equipment. It has the seal of approval from the American Heart Association, and in fact, it plays a major part in their push to get kids active and healthy. If you’re looking for something that gets your heart pumping but also provides you with a great lower-body workout, jumping rope is the choice for you.