Four Home Exercises for a Healthy Heart
By Ally Myer
A healthy heart is essential for your body to function. It affects your ability to move with ease, feel energized, and wake up alert. Blood carries oxygen, along with nutrients from the food you eat, fueling your muscles and your other organs. Because your heart is so essential, it’s just as important to keep it healthy. Here are four things you can do at home for optimal heart health.
Get the heart pumping. Like any other muscle, the heart gets stronger when it is challenged. A great way to challenge your heart at home is by doing stair sprints. Run up and down the stairs for 30 seconds, and then walk around the room for one minute. Repeat sprints at least three times, or more based on your energy and fitness level. Getting out of breath is a good thing!
Establish a walking routine. First thing in the morning, during your lunch break, or right before eating dinner, go for a quick 10- to 20-minute walk. This increases blood flow, helping clear the arteries. It also helps increase metabolism and burn fat, which are beneficial for heart health.
Meditate. Meditation helps the nervous system relax, allowing the heart to beat slower and giving your whole bodily system a break. Also, when you’re relaxed throughout the day, you’re less likely to overeat and engage in other unhealthy behaviors that can harm your heart. Aim to meditate every day for 10 minutes. You can do it on your own quietly or play calming music. Another way to meditate is to use an online app such as “Calm” meditation and sleep stories.
Practice gratitude. Always focusing on the negative can affect your heart health, and the American Heart Association reports there are established ties between depression, mental health and heart disease. It’s also possible to experience a literal “broken heart” in the form of stress-induced cardiomyopathy. But, having a positive mindset through gratitude can have real cardiac benefits. To do this, gratitude exercises can help. List five things you feel you’ve done right in your life and thank yourself for those decisions. Next, list five things you love about someone special and thank them for those things. Finally, list five things you are enjoying today and thank the universe or God for them.
Incorporating just two or three of these home heart exercises can make a huge difference in your health and spirit. For greater benefit, we recommend adding strength training, aerobic exercise, balance, and coordination practice at least three times per week. To learn more, contact the fitness professionals at the YMCA.
Ally Myer is the health and wellness coordinator at the Southwest Family YMCA. Also a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, Ally helps people improve their fitness and eating routines to achieve optimal functioning. She has a degree in health sciences from Clemson University and has been working in the fitness industry for six years.