The good news about cardiovascular disease is that 80 percent of cardiac and stroke events may be prevented with education and action.
Cardiovascular disease—a catch-all term for all of the diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels—is the number one leading cause of mortality globally according the World Health Organization.
High blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol), and smoking are key heart disease risk factors. Several other medical conditions and lifestyle choices can also put people at a higher risk for heart disease, including:
- being overweight and obesity
- poor diet
- physical inactivity
- excessive alcohol use
The recommendations are to exercise 30 minutes most days of the week for a total of 150 minutes per week (from the American College of Sports Medicine, and the American Heart Association).
While 150 minutes per week sounds strange, it is easily broken down into about 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. In fact, according to the American Heart Association’s 2013 exercise standards, “Exercise can be viewed as a preventive medical treatment, ‘like a pill’ that should be taken on an almost daily basis.”
If you have been off the wagon with exercise lately and you are wondering where to start here are some suggestions to back into the swing of things.
Yoga and Pliates are great for both mind and body. They combines deep breathing, meditation, and rhythmic body movements. A research study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion stated that they found that, “Yoga alleviated anxiety and decreased the risks for cardiovascular disease, including hypertension, BMI, and waist circumference” (Mei-Ying, et. al., 2013).
Walking is by far the most popular form of exercise. It is cheap, easy on your joints, and you can walk basically anywhere.
When you are walking it is important to walk at a fairly constant pace. While walking at the grocery store gets you more steps for your step competition, you tend to meander, stop, and look at something, and then walk again.
It is important that you designate 30 minutes to moderate walking to allow your heart to really work and to work for a lengthy period of time.
Another great way to exercise is swimming. The Centers for Disease Control says it is one of the best aerobic exercises for heart health. It puts very little stress on your joints and muscles, making it easier for people to exercise for longer without an increased effort.
Your heart rate also doesn’t spike as high when swimming because you are horizontal instead of vertical. This makes it easier for your heart to pump blood throughout your body.
Biking is also a low impact exercise mode. You can join a spin class, ride a road bike outside, or climb trails on your mountain bike. To avoid injuries and feel comfortable on your bike, it is important to set you seat height appropriately.