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Health and Fitness

What is the best exercise for the heart and lungs?

While regular exercise can improve general health, the Centers for Disease Control reports that only 21% of American people satisfy the organization’s Physical Activity Guidelines.

For most individuals, this means obtaining 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week, such as brisk walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week, such as running, in addition to two weekly strength training sessions.

However, what effect does regular exercise have on the heart specifically? And what effect does all of this exertion have on our overall health?

While it is true that regular exercise develops muscles, it also assists the heart in circulating blood more efficiently throughout the body. Consider the following seven heart-healthy reasons why cardiovascular activity should be a regular part of your fitness routine:¹

Blood pressure should be reduced. Each healthy heartbeat sends out more blood, working more efficiently. This alleviates stress on the heart and surrounding arteries, resulting in a drop in blood pressure. Cardiovascular activity may help lower your blood pressure if you have it. If you do not already have high blood pressure, exercise may help maintain it as you age.

Enhance blood flow. Regular cardiovascular exercise helps the heart to obtain increased blood flow in the small veins surrounding it, where fatty deposit blockages can accumulate. As a result, circulation improvements may help prevent heart attacks. Exercise has also been shown to increase the physical connections between these small blood arteries, providing the blood with additional routes to go.

Increase the efficiency of your workouts. When you begin a new workout plan that includes cardio activity, your body may need time to acclimatize to a faster pace. However, the more routine exercise gets, the more rapidly your body draws oxygen from your blood during workouts. As a result, those who exercise consistently have more full hearts and are less winded during exercise activities. Cardiovascular exercise also enables your body to recuperate more quickly following exercise.

Reduce cholesterol. Numerous studies demonstrate that exercise is associated with beneficial changes in cholesterol, including an increase in healthy HDL cholesterol and a possible 10% reduction in harmful LDL cholesterol.

Reduce your chances of developing heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Regular exercise has been shown to assist men and women reduce their risk of coronary heart disease by up to 21% and 29%, respectively. Additionally, active individuals had a 20% lower risk of stroke. Regular exercise also helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels, lowering the risk of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

Promote more heart-healthy behaviors. According to the American Heart Association, regular exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight, make healthier food choices, reduce stress, and enhance your mood.

Reduce the prevalence of arrhythmias in the heart, such as atrial fibrillation (AFib). A frequent cardiac rhythm disorder, AFib significantly increases the chance of having a stroke caused by a blood clot by fivefold. Researchers reported last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association that a weight-loss, diet, and exercise plan resulted in decreased rates of AFib and less severe illness. According to the American Heart Association, patients who frequently exercised with a short-term, high-intensity interval training routine had a 50% reduction in the incidence of AFib.

Which Exercises and How Much?

According to national standards, all people should obtain 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five days a week. It is unnecessary to participate in a structured fitness regimen to reap the benefits. Moderate exercise can take the form of brisk walking, recreational bicycling, gardening, and active housecleaning.

Aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities can both be beneficial to your lungs. Aerobic exercises such as walking, running, or jumping rope provides the type of workout your heart and lungs require to perform efficiently. Strengthening your muscles with activities such as weightlifting or Pilates strengthens your core, improves posture, and tones your breathing muscles. In particular, breathing exercises can help strengthen the diaphragm and train the body to breathe more deeply and effectively.

Several Points to Bear in Mind

  • Always consult your physician before beginning or altering your workout plan. This is especially critical if you have a pre-existing medical issue.
  • Avoid exercising outdoors during periods of excessive pollution. When the air quality is poor, take a walk indoors in a mall or gym or utilize an exercise machine. Likewise, reduce your child’s time spent playing outdoors if the air quality is terrible.

Exercising While Suffering from Lung Disease

Individuals living with lung illness can and should engage in regular physical activity for the same reasons as the rest of us. Your lungs and heart remain stronger, you can better execute daily duties, and you feel better mentally and physically. However, increasing your physical activity can be scary if you are already experiencing shortness of breath. Therefore, it is critical to collaborate with your healthcare team to develop a fitness regimen that is right for you.

How Do I Begin?

Consult your physician before beginning an exercise program about the following:

  • Medication adjustments. New drugs can significantly affect your response to exercise; your doctor can determine whether your current exercise plan is safe.
  • Extensive lifting. Ascertain that lifting or moving large objects is permitted, as well as duties such as raking, shoveling, mowing, or scrubbing. Chores around the house might be exhausting for some individuals; limit yourself to what you can without becoming exhausted.
  • Safe exercises. Consult your physician before lifting weights, using a weight machine, jogging, or swimming.

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