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The Right Workout to Strengthen Your Heart

For years, a daily half hour of exercise has been one of the recommended ways to stay healthy. Recent research is showing that it might not be enough to keep your heart healthy.

After studying the exercise habits of nearly 400,000 people, researchers have found that those who worked out for just 30 minutes a day lowered their risk for heart failure by 10%, or what they describe as only a “modest” reduction.

However, those who worked out for an hour reduced their risk by almost 20%. And those who had time to work out for two hours a day reduced their risk by a whopping 35%.

All that might be fine if you have the time to devote two hours to working out every day. For many adults, finding time for any type of physical activity during the day can be a challenge.

So, how do you get a workout that benefits your heart? Experts suggest making your short workouts more intense. Thirty minutes of high-intensity intervals can be more effective at protecting against heart failure than a moderate workout.

The reason being is that interval training—workouts that alternate between high-intensity effort and lower-intensity effort—causes your heart rate to stay up for short periods of time and then go back down over and over again. This up-and-down format helps strengthen your heart because it forces the muscle to work harder than if it had to consistently maintain the same steady beats per minute. When rating your perception of how hard you’re working on a scale of 1 to 10, high intensity would be a 7 or higher; you should be working as hard or as fast as you possibly can.

And the experts point out that you don’t need to crank up the intensity during every single workout. Simply adding a small amount of moderate exercise during the day will help increase your training time and decrease your risk of heart failure. For example, taking an extra walk after lunch or dinner can be beneficial to your heart and overall health.

Remember to check with your healthcare provider before starting any exercise program. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure and want help managing your high blood pressure, consider enrolling in our Hypertension Management Program.

Published on: February 11, 2016