Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ways to Incorporate Heart Healthy Exercise Into Your Life

Since the health focus for  this month is on our hearts, I thought it would be a good idea to check into some ways that we can incorporate exercise into our lives that will specifically help strengthen our heart and help protect it from disease. WebMD had some good information on this topic: http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/exercise-healthy-heart. I like the part about exercising for 20 to 30 minutes! Since we all have busy schedules, it seems like this amount of time might be something that could actually fit into our lives every other day! Page 3 of this article also had some information on exercise that you can do while - believe it or not - sitting. Here are some of their examples:
  • Ankle pumping. Sit on the floor with your feet straight out in front of you. Keeping your heels on the floor, lift your toes up as far as you can. Hold for a count of five.
  • Knee straightening. Raise your foot to fully straighten your knee out in front of you. Hold for a count of five. Lower your foot to the floor. Repeat on other side.
  • Shoulder shrugs. Keeping your back straight, lift your shoulders up and forward toward your ears. Release your shoulders down and back in a smooth circular motion.
  • Arm circles. Sit with your arms at your sides, fingers pointing toward the floor. Raise both arms out from your sides (about 1 or 2 feet from your body). Keeping your elbows straight and your palms facing toward you, rotate your arms in small circles.
If you, like me, spend a lot of time sitting at your desk, then these are some small exercises that can be used to keep the blood moving through the body.

One of my problems is getting into a regular exercise routine. So, there are also some suggestions in this article for how to stick with your exercise program. The two best suggestions I found were to find something to do that is actually fun, and to schedule the exercise into your daily routine. I am a very schedule driven person (if it is on my calendar it will get done) and I do tend to gravitate towards doing things I actually enjoy...who doesn't?!? So, I have decided that I really enjoy walking. I'm not a jogger or runner, but I will walk for hours on end if given the opportunity. One of my exercise goals for myself is to try to get in at least 20 to 30 minutes of walking 6 days a week. One way that I can do this is to spend part of my lunch breaks a few days a week taking a walk. Another way is to treat myself after work to a walk in my favorite park. I can schedule these walks into my days and they are something that I know I enjoy, so I feel like I have a better chance of keeping up with this routine.

Googling "heart healthy exercise" will get you tons of good tips and ideas from reputable sites. At heart.com, they give the good advice that if you just can't fit in larger amounts of time to exercise, even shorter 5 to 10 minute periods of exercise throughout your day will still have good benefits (http://www.heart.com/10-heart-healthy-exercise-tips.html). They also mention that even moderate intensity exercise, like Pilates and yoga (and walking), is good and that you don't necessarily need a gym or fancy equipment to get in some exercise that will benefit your heart.

What ideas do you have for incorporating heart healthy exercise into your life? We would love to have you share them in your comments!

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