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Best Exercises for Cardiovascular Health


Moderate exercise can improve your strength, flexibility, endurance and cardiovascular health. Even though any amount of exercise is beneficial to your health, experts recommend doing a minimum of 75 minutes of aerobic exercise per week for your heart to reap the rewards.

The following exercises improve the way your body uses oxygen and strengthen your heart:

  • Interval Training – Combining short bursts of high-intensity exercise with longer periods of active recovery prevents heart disease, diabetes, promotes weight loss and efficiently improves fitness. So, if you focus on taking brisk walks, add one to two minutes of sprints for every five minutes of walking.


  • Weight Training – Similar to interval training, weight training increases your heart rate during reps, then you recover in between sets. While machine exercises are helpful, using free weights engages your core and builds balance for extra benefits.


  • Swimming – Swimming is a great, total-body, low-impact sport. Because so many muscles are involved in this total-body workout, the heart needs to work harder to fuel them. Other activities, such as rowing and cross-country skiing, provide similar cardiovascular benefits.


  • Yoga – Yoga is a calming exercise that burns a lot of calories, lowers blood pressure and promotes heart health. It also strengthens your core.


  • Stay active all day – Staying active all day when you have a desk job can be difficult. To combat the negative impact of sitting at a computer, try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day and run errands after work to make up for being sedentary.

What Exercises are Bad for your Heart?

There are very few exercises that are actually bad for your heart. However, those who are at risk for a heart attack should avoid any type of vigorous exercise that they haven’t trained for.

Some examples include:

  • Running long-distance
  • Swimming long-distance
  • Shoveling snow for extended periods of time
  • Biking more than 20 miles.

Consult your physician for information on keeping your heart healthy through exercise.


Keep Calm & Game On!

Many years ago, people were told that they were not able to play sports or enjoy physical activity because they were diagnosed with asthma. Well, this is no longer the case. If fact, we encourage people to stay active, be fit and enjoy physical activities just as much as those without asthma.

Tips for exercising or playing sports with asthma


In addition to adhering to your daily asthma medications, inhaling a beta-agonist, such as Proair (Albuterol Sulfate), 15-30 minutes before physical activity will help relax the muscles around your airways. This will prevent or lessen the airway constriction triggered by exercise (also known as, exercise-induced asthma).

Warm Up

It is a good idea to warm up before any physical activity. Just 5-10 minutes of warming up can prevent chest tightening during exertion. A warm up could be a brisk walk, jogging in place, jump roping or jumping jacks.

Breathe in Through Your Nose

Breathing through your nose allows the air to warm up before it gets to your lungs. Since cold air can trigger bronchoconstriction, try to avoid breathing in through your mouth.

Take a break

If you need to take a break, do it. Don’t feel ashamed if you need to take a brief rest during activity. If you are having symptoms, you can take 2-4 puffs of your beta-agonist, wait a few minutes and be ready to play again.

If you have doubts about whether sports and asthma mix, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology reports that asthma affects more than 20% of elite athletes and 1 in every 6 Olympic athletes. Who, you ask? Well, just to name a few:

  • Dennis Rodman – played 4 seasons in the NBA
  • David Beckham – Professional soccer player
  • Amy Van Dyke – won four gold medals total in the Athens and Sydney Olympics.
  • Jackie Joyner-Kersee – track and field all-star and has medaled four times in the Olympics
  • Greg Lougenis – one of the greatest divers of all time

As long as your asthma is properly diagnosed and managed, and if you follow the asthma regimen prescribed by your doctor, there is absolutely no reason why asthma should prevent you from reaching your competitive or exercise goals. Game on!


Physical Activity as a Family

Children and adults need 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day to achieve a healthy weight and prevent a range of chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer and stroke. If you or your child is trying to lose weight, getting this activity is essential. Breaking the activity up into 15 minute chunks throughout the day has the same benefits as doing it all at once but can be easier to achieve. Weave fun activities into your day to get exercise while creating a bond with your kids.

Ways to get physically active with your family:

  • Try a new physical activity together as a family such as skiing, rock climbing, tennis, or canoeing.
  • Go for a bike ride or walk after a family meal.
  • Choose physical family activities such as bowling, miniature golf or laser tag over movies and TV.
  • Go ice skating year round – check out your local indoor skating rink.
  • Enjoy an amusement or water park.
  • Rake leaves and jump into the leaf piles!
  • Encourage children to join a sports team.
  • Give children toys that encourage physical activity like balls, kites, hula hoops, Frisbee and jump ropes.
  • Help kids plan neighborhood games of tag, hide and seek, or touch football.
  • Limit screen time to two hours per day and keep the TV out of the bedroom.
  • Plant a vegetable garden. Planting and maintaining a garden encourages physical activity and kids love to eat the veggies they grow!

Once you get your family moving, remember to drink plenty of zero calorie water before, during and after activities.



The Importance of Being Active

Like most people, you have probably heard that physical activity including exercise is good for you. Exercise or physical activity is a struggle for many people especially during the winter months. Establishing regular physical activity habits is as important as healthy eating.

There are many benefits of exercise:

  • increasing your body strength
  • maintaining or reducing weight
  • improving bone density
  • improving your quality of sleep
  • increasing your energy
  • relieving stress
  • countering many medical conditions.

Physical activity is an effective treatment for many chronic conditions. Don’t worry if you have never exercised or stopped exercising, making a decision to start being active or exercising is the first step.

Where do I start?

First, check with your physician if you have medical conditions before engaging in an exercise program to ensure safety. Seek the assistance of a physical therapist if you have any on-going physical ailments. If it has been a while since you were physically active, take it slow. Nothing stops a program sooner than injuring yourself by overdoing it at your first attempt. Find an activity that you enjoy participating in to increase the chance that you will continue. Find an exercise buddy to make it more enjoyable, and to increase your success.

What do I do?

Figure out how you can add activity or exercise into each day. It is important to include a combination of activities to increase strength, balance, endurance and flexibility. Cardiovascular exercises should be alternated every other day with the strength training to improve all muscle groups.

How do I add activity?

Think about your current routine. Figure out ways to slips exercise into each day. A brisk walk before starting other daily activities, hopping off the bus or train a stop ahead and walking the rest of the way to your destination, taking a 5-10 minute walk during your lunch break, using the stairs instead of the elevator- or walking a few flights up or down before taking the elevator on higher floors. Think about keeping free weights or exercise bands by the TV chair to use during commercials. Chair exercises, free weights and exercise bands are helpful for persons unable to walk or stand for extended periods of time.

Next Steps for Success

Begin by setting a short term goal. Make it part of your routine. Set a start date and time to initiate your plan for adding activity. Have a busy schedule? Add it to you date book or appointment calendar and make sure you use that time for activity. Seek out an exercise buddy, maybe a co-worker looking for someone to walk with, or friend to join you at an exercise class or join an organized sports team for people of your age group. Seek out what classes or facilities are available in your area. Shop for an exercise or yoga DVD, or seek out options from your local library that allows you to exercise in the privacy of your home. What about that exercise equipment in the basement or spare room? It might be as easy as getting that equipment out from under the clothes hanging on it, and using it at a time that is convenient.

Setting up an exercise routine, as minimal as it might be, is an important step to improving your health. Experts say “any activity is better than nothing!”

In order to be successful when making changes, make them small, simple and progressive. Add one change, and once you are comfortable with that change, introduce another. Get moving!!