Put Your Heart Into Exercise

Put Your Heart Into Exercise

Working up a sweat, as you may already know, works for your heart. But according to a recent study, regular physical exercise—and the more activity the better—may play an even bigger role than previously thought when it comes to safeguarding your cardiovascular health.

“Adults should strive for at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week,” said Cardiologist William Frauenheim, MD. (Dr. Frauenheim sees patients at the Spectrum Health Heart & Vascular Center on Holland Hospital’s main campus.) “While participating in vigorous exercise is beneficial to both men and women, this study’s findings show particular advantages for women.”

For those struggling to find ways to stay active amid the pandemic or who may be tempted to hibernate during winter, here are some ideas:

  • Check out a YouTube fitness video or download a workout app. The options and activities are vast!
  • Embrace the beauty of cold. Head out for some cross-country skiing, snow shoeing or even a walk through your neighborhood. (If you have high blood pressure or heart disease, be sure to talk to your health care provider about outdoor exercise precautions you may need to take.)
  • Schedule a weekly Zoom scavenger hunt or dance party.
  • Build a snowman, go sledding or have a snowball fight with your kids.
  • Create an at-home gym and workout routine.
  • Play active games with your family.
  • When watching TV, get up during commercials or every so often to do something physical—whether it’s taking out the garbage or doing jumping jacks. Incorporate more short bursts of movement (aka “microwave exercises”) into your life, such as countertop pushups while you wait for a pot to boil.

“It’s ideal to try and get 30 minutes of exercise per day on most days of the week, but some movement is always better than none,” Dr. Frauenheim said.

New to exercise or haven’t been active in a while? Consider these tips:

  • Start small: Take a walk around your block, and yes, it’s okay to stop and rest. Remember, just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
  • Think gradual: It’s best to gradually build to where you can exercise comfortably for 30 minutes three or four times a week before diving into a more intense activity.
  • Mix it up: Try different activities, whether it’s biking, hiking, strength training or yoga. Participating in different activities combats boredom and helps reduce the chances of an overuse injury.
  • Wear the right gear: Get fitted with the right shoes. A running and/or fitness store can make recommendations on the best shoe for you. Wear appropriate clothing that’s comfortable and will limit chafing (common in the leg and groin area).
  • Rest and recover: Don’t start out too fast, and allow your body to rest and recover between exercise sessions. If you ever feel pain, shortness of breath, dizziness or nausea during exercise, stop, as you could be pushing yourself too hard.

Want to learn more about how you can prevent cardiovascular disease? Don’t miss our Facebook premiere, “A Heart to Heart About Cardiac Health,” Wed, Feb 17 at 1 PM. Together, Holland Hospital and the Spectrum Health Heart & Vascular Center offer local access to exceptional cardiac and vascular care.

  • William Frauenheim, MD, MPH

    William Frauenheim, MD, MPH

    Dr. Frauenheim specializes in cardiology and vascular health. He received his medical degree from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) and a Master's in Public Health from Columbia University School of Public Health (New Your, NY). Dr. Frauenheim also completed a Cardiology Fellowship at Rush-Presbyterian-St Luke Medical Center. He see patients at the Spectrum Health Heart & Vascular Center located on the campus of Holland Hospital.

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