Exercise improves cardiac health and controls many of the risk factors related to heart disease. But Exercises also puts a stress on the cardiovascular system and may precipitate or worsen cardiac symptoms. The essence is to strike the right balance.
For those with healthy hearts and no symptoms, exercise should always be encouraged. For those with manifest cardiac disease and weak heart, a supervised program and understanding of exercise related stress is emphasized.
Heart Exercise can be broadly divided into three types – Aerobics, Resistance Exercises and Stretching Exercises.
Aerobics is also known as cardio exercise since the one major effect it has is on heart rate. The intensity is defined as mild, moderate and severe depending on the heart rate achieved during exercise. As a rough calculation, the maximum heart rate of a person is 220 minus the age in years. Mild, moderate and severe form is when the heart rate reaches below 60 percent, 60-80 percent and more than 80 percent respectively during an exercise.
The oxygen demand of the heart increases with rise in heart rate and is the principle used in the treadmill test when cardiac changes are assessed during such a stress. A supervised exercise program is based on the same principles where you will be advised as to what level of aerobics is safe. One may start exercises within few weeks of a cardiac event under a supervised program.
How Aerobic Exercise Can Benefit your Heart
Despite age, body weight, or physical abilities, aerobics does have a positive impact on your heart and overall health. It not only manages weight, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol but also improves blood circulation. All of these factors lower the risk of heart disease. In addition, increases stamina, improves mood and help us be active despite our age. Few examples of aerobic workouts include running or jogging or running, climbing stairs (at work or home), swimming, cycling and playing sports like football, badminton, tennis, basket ball, etc.
Weight training, also known as Resistance Exercises or Muscle-strengthening Exercises, is one example where a group of muscles is moved against resistance. Resistance exercises have more effect on blood pressure than heart rate. It increases the strength, size, power as well as the endurance of the muscle. However, when resistance exercises involve heavy weights and breath holding, there could be tremendous rise in BP and those with uncontrolled BP should avoid it. But at the same time, resistance exercise of lesser intensity lowers the BP, some believe even more than aerobic exercises, in the long run. Greater repetitions of weights with lesser loads, is advised.
How Resistance Exercises Can Benefit
Resistance Exercises strengthens your muscles. This can help you perform routine activities seamlessly and also protect your body from injuries. In addition, strong muscles also enhance your metabolic rate, meaning more calories will be burnt even while at rest. Few examples of resistance exercises include lifting free weights (dumbbells, barbells or hand weights), body-resistance workouts (pull-ups, squats, chin-ups and pushups) and utilizing resistance bands or weight machines
Stretching Exercises, also called flexibility workouts, does not contribute directly to your heart’s health, but it does benefit your musculoskeletal health, which in turn, can help with joint pain, muscle cramping including other musculoskeletal issues. Stretching Exercises should always be done to tone the musculoskeletal system and make exercise safer and easier. It is critical in allowing you to maintain your aerobic and resistance training workouts. Sudden stretch of muscles can cause pain and injury which can be avoided by a few minutes of warm up and cooling off, generally with stretch exercises. One should get guidance on stretching of different muscle and muscle group from trained personnel for better results.
In addition, yoga also has many health benefits, such as lesser resting heart rate, better respiratory function, improved blood circulation and increased lung capacity. There are many studies that also show that yoga can help lower your blood pressure, which is very important to decrease your risk for stroke, heart attack and other health ailments. Yoga and meditation can also reduce stress, one of the major risk factors for heart disease.
Heart Exercise: What Should a Heart Attack or Stroke Survivor do?
Some people go on a back foot to exercise after suffering a heart attack or stroke, but regular workouts can actually help reduce the risk of having another major cardiac event.
Most of the patients are recommended a cardiac rehabilitation following a heart attack. Cardiac rehabilitation is a clinically supervised program to improve the heart’s health. This program includes exercise counseling, advice on reducing stress, education for heart-healthy living like nutritional guidance including a strategy to quit smoking. Doctors prescribe an exercise routine for stroke survivors (stroke rehabilitation program) to offset the physical debility and inactive lifestyle. The doctor will give you a routine based, specifically on your stage of recovery, tolerance and functional limitations.
5 Signs of Heart Problems You Mustn’t Neglect While Exercising
Seek medical attention if you experience the following while exercising:
- Chest Discomfort
Intense chest pain, fullness or squeezing in the center of the chest, or uncomfortable pressure can indicate several heart disorders. If you experience these, stop exercising and seek expert advice.
- Light-headedness or Dizziness
Experiencing fatigue is common while exercising, especially if you lead a sedentary lifestyle mostly. But light-headedness and dizziness are causes for concern. Don’t ignore these.
- Abnormal Heart Rhythm
Skipping a heartbeat or palpitations is not a common occurrence in most healthy individuals. Make sure you watch out for these symptoms.
- Shortness of Breath
While breathlessness to some extent is not unusual, if it persists for long or is accompanied with discomfort, then it’s a warning sign. Consult your doctor in such a situation.
- Unusual Sweating
Sweating is again normal, however cold sweats or sweating coupled with nausea or discomfort isn’t.
Regular exercise, stable heart healthy diet and regular comprehensive healthy heart check up will help keep a tab and you strengthen your heart. You should also know what kind of, and how much exercise is good for you. Consult an expert Apollo Cardiologist at Ask Apollo to know more.