Heart is an important muscular organ. To keep it healthy, one needs to exercise and make it stronger. In most cases, cardiovascular problems are due to lack of exercise. Even light exercises help as they slow down heart rate and aid arterial blood flow. This leads to improvement in the functioning of the heart and improves lifespan.
Strength-building exercises benefit the heart more than aerobic activities, such as walking and cycling, according to recent research. Static activity, such as strength training, had stronger links to reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases than dynamic activity, like walking and cycling. However, a combination of strength training and aerobic activity is most beneficial for heart health.
Strength training along with toning your muscles, leads to stronger bones. It also helps in weight loss as lean muscles burn more calories even when the body is at rest. Strength training can be done with resistance bands and light weights. Before starting a new fitness regime is it mandatory to seek guidance from doctor. This is important if you are a heart patient or have other major health problems.
Remember to engage in five to ten minutes of warm-up and cool-down before and after exercising. Warm-up could be simple stretches and dynamic movements of major body parts. This prevents sore muscles and lessens stress on your heart. Endurance or aerobic exercises that increase breathing and raise heart rate are also useful. However, for heart patients who have beta blockers might not see a change in heart rate. A cardiac expert’s advice, therefore, is a must
Types of exercises
Push-ups: Push-ups work on chest muscles and can be done in various ways. To make it less rigorous, one can take the support of a window or sturdy furniture to do push-ups. Breath out as you come up and breath in as you go down (six to ten reps, two to three sets).
Squats: To avoid making squats strenuous, start with half wide squats or just sit down on a chair (not to low) and get up. While squating down, your thighs should be parallel to the ground (five to ten reps on-two sets).
Posterior stretch: Sit in upright position by stretching your legs. Then stretch arms above your head and slowly lean forward and reach the toes. If you are flexible enough you can touch your forehead to knees. Exhale when you start the stretch and inhale when you finish.
Anterior stretch: Lie on your stomach. Place palms next to the chest and raise your torso and stretch the chest and stomach area. This is where visceral fat is stored. Breath in when going up and breath out when you lie down. This is a kind og bhujangasana. Gradually, you can progress to dhanurasana in order to get a good anterior stretch.
Flexibility: Yoga is best for these type of workouts as it improves balance and loosens joints.
Pranayama: Breathing exercises and pranayama reduces stress and helps us remain calm and composed.
To perform bhastrika pranayama, fill your lungs to its maximum capacity and exhale. Inhalation and exhalation should be done in a 1:1 ratio. For example, if you inhale for five counts, you must take five counts to exhale.
For anulom vilom (alternate nostril breathing), gently block your right nostril with your thumb. Inhale through left nostril and close it with right ring finger and exhale through the right nostril. Then inhale through your right nostril, block it and exhale through left nostril. This is one cycle. Repeat for five to ten minutes.
(The writer is ACSM and Yoga Alliance certified personal and group trainer)
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