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Exercise for Better Heart Health

Heart disease and stroke are the first and fifth leading cause of death in the United States, respectively. To reduce your risk, it is important to identify risk factors, such as family history, hypertension and high cholesterol and learn what you can do to manage those risk factors. A sedentary lifestyle is also a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. In fact, some researchers argue sitting is worse than smoking. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise, 75 minutes a week of vigorous exercise or a combination of the two. For most people, that would equate to 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Here are a few types of exercises that can help you have a healthier heart:

1) Interval training is alternating intense activity with intervals of lighter activity. For instance, if you are walking, incorporate short periods of jogging. This will help you burn more calories and improve cardiovascular fitness.

2) If allowed by your health care provider, playing non-impact sports is a great way to boost your heart health. 

3) Strength training involves exercises with free weights, machines or your own body weight. Strength training helps you build muscle, which helps you burn calories easier. The American Heart Association recommends strength training at least twice a week.

4) Yoga can help lower blood pressure, increase lung capacity, improve balance, improve circulation, tone muscles and build strength. Yoga has also shown to help relieve symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation (AFib.)

One of the best things you can do is to stay active every day. Whether you are gardening or taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work, trying to constantly keep active throughout the day is helpful to cardiovascular health. If you have questions about a recommended exercise routine that is right for you, contact your health care provider.