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5 Heart Healthy Exercises

Hilary Petrowski

Exercise helps reduce the risk of heart disease by decreasing blood pressure improving cholesterol levels decreasing internal inflammation in the body and maintaining blood sugar. Exercise will also help you reduce or maintain a healthy weight which leads to a healthier heart.

Hilary Welch-Petrowski exercise physiologist with VVMC's Cardiac Rehab and Shaw Regional Cancer Center's Fit for Survival recommends 5 exercises to keep your heart healthy.

1. Walk – Easy convenient familiar....Just put on sneakers and get out there! The American College of Sports Medicine recommends walking a minimum of 30 minutes 4-6 days/week.

2. Run – Improves your overall fitness level but you need to gradually begin a running program to avoid injury. Start with walking 4 minutes then running 1 minute repeat this walk/run for a total of 30 minutes. After doing this routine regularly for a few weeks decrease the walk and increase the run portion. Build up to running 30 minutes 4-6 times/week.

3. Swim – Low-impact exercise less stress on joints. Begin a program with 20 continuous minutes of swimming laps. Any stroke will do but try to make it continuous and build up to 30 minutes. A beginner swimmer will be less efficient than a more experienced one and will therefore use more energy to perform the strokes. The beginner will need to start slowly and build up cardiovascular endurance until he/she is able to swim 30 minutes continuously 4-6 times/week.

4. Yoga – Take a class (preferably for beginners if you're trying yoga for the first time) or follow a yoga DVD in the privacy of your home. In addition to the benefits listed above yoga reduces stress and anxiety. Try a class 1-2 times/week in addition to getting aerobic exercise 4-6 times/week (walk run swim).

5. Strength Training – Increase lean muscle mass which increases your metabolism and helps you maintain a healthy weight. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends strength training 2-3 days/week and doing 8-10 different exercises incorporating all the major muscle groups 2-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions. You may use strengthening machines at a gym or dumbbells.

If you are having trouble getting motivated to exercise on your own grab a friend and run before work invite a co-worker to walk during lunch or meet your spouse at the gym in the evening for strength training. There are numerous options for maintaining and improving your heart health. You can combine the exercises listed above to achieve 4-6 days/week of aerobic exercise strength training 2-3 days/week and ending with a relaxing yoga class. Whatever you choose get started today with a regular exercise program and have fun so that exercise becomes a part of your life!

About Fit For Survival
Shaw's exercise physiologists Hilary Welch-Petrowski and Sarah Giovagnoli conduct fitness assessments and develop customized exercise programs that meet each individual's needs and goals. Participants in the program are instructed in aerobic conditioning strength training balance and flexibility to increase fitness and overall well-being. In addition the program offers yoga Pilates and tai chi as well as group hikes snowshoes and ski days in Eagle & Summit Counties. For more information regarding Fit for Survival call (970) 569-7493.

About Cardiac Rehab
We are committed to providing exceptional cardiac care to those who have experienced a significant "heart event" or are involved in the maintenance and prevention of further disease. Through monitored exercise clinical support and education the cardiac team works closely with patients to help them achieve their personal goals. The Rehab Process: Phase I - inpatient education Phase II - outpatient EKG-monitored exercise Phase III - outpatient supervised exercise Pharmacy consults Nutritional consults. For more information regarding Cardiac Rehab call (970) 569-7780.