It’s that time of year when we start seeing storefronts packed with images of cupid, and restaurants increase their prices with “special menu sets” to take advantage of that international celebration of love – St. Valentine’s Day. Of course, the most common symbol of love is a big red heart. So if you don’t have a hot date this year, or even if you do have one, why not take this as a reminder that your own heart is the most important organ in your body. Make a vow to start giving it a little more love. You can do so by following some of these heart healthy exercises.
Tough, exhilarating and often exhausting, circuit training really gets the blood pumping around your body. And when this happens, the elasticity of your heart’s arterial wall is challenged. This stretching and pumping is good for your arteries and helps with cardiovascular endurance. For the biggest benefits, take only small rest periods and blend upper and lower body exercises.
Weights are great for anyone to tone muscles, but people with heart issues can particularly benefit. Research has found that the resistance training offered by weights can help widen blood vessels (called flow-mediated dilation) in response to increased blood flow to the limbs, in a way that aerobic exercise can’t. It is this greater flow-mediated dilation that contributes to improved cardiovascular health. Resistance exercises such as weight lifting also leads to a lasting drop in blood pressure (as much as 20 percent) after a workout when compared to aerobic exercise. A toned firm physique is also going to help you attract admirers and maybe ensure you get a Valentine’s Day card this year.
It’s cheap, you can do it anywhere and it’s great for your heart. Running, especially when you incorporate sprints or hills, can really boost your heart’s health. Work ten seconds of intense sprinting into your run (start with around four of these sprints and try to work up to ten each run) and your heart will really benefit. You also burn off enough fat and calories to enable you to enjoy a Valentine’s day meal without the guilt.
Exercise doesn’t have to be intensive to benefit your heart. And if you’re out of shape, suddenly hitting the gym hard could be a little risky. You need to build up your strength and fitness gradually. Yoga is a gentle way to elevate your heart rate, especially if you’re doing the more active techniques such as Ashtanga and Bikram. It also improves strength helping you get ready for more vigorous exercise.
Cycling is not only a great and green way to get about, it can also substantially reduce your risk for coronary heart disease. A study by the British Medical Association found that cycling 20 miles a week can reduce your potential to develop heart disease by a staggering 50%. It seems that using the large muscle groups in your legs as you pedal, really elevates your heart rate. Find a bicycle made for two and you can share the fitness fun with your Valentine.
Even being lucky in love can do great things for your heart. Research has shown that something as simple as a hug can lower your resting heart rate and lead to a drop in blood pressure. Sex, is also a form of physical exercise that elevates your heart rate and respiration, strengthening the heart and burning calories. A night of love may even boost your immune systems. It seems that Immunoglobulin A (IgA), which helps the body fight off illness, was 30% higher in those who had sex once or twice a week than in those who had no sex at all
Want to improve your heart health or simply want to look great for your partner and yourself? Why not get in touch as we can put together a program that you and your body will fall in love with.