Behavior Change, Chronic Condition Management, Employers & Brokers, Health Outcomes, Health Plans, Health Systems, Medicare Advantage, Partners, Personal Health Technology, Researchers, Workforce Health | By | 02/06/20 | 2 Minute Read

The Best Exercises for Heart Health

Your heart is probably the hardest working organ in the body. The average person’s heart beats 72 times a minute, which translates to 103,680 times a day, 37,843,200 times a year, and 2,838,240,000 times a lifetime on average. Needless to say, we should help it do its important job: keeping the blood flowing and providing the body with enough power to function correctly.

During American Heart Month, the focus here at Fitbit is on looking at all the ways to improve a person’s heart health. Here’s the shortlist of the best exercises to keep your heartbeat strong.

Aerobics, interval training, and cardio. Exercise is key to having a healthy heart. Cardio exercises are designed to raise your heart rate and make you break a sweat. They can help improve your circulation, lower your blood pressure, and control your blood sugar level.

And while exercise in any quantity can be beneficial to a person’s health, having the right amount of intensity in our exercise routine may improve your heart health. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults get at least two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week. Recommended cardio exercises include a variety of choices (something for everyone!) such as biking, jogging, hiking, brisk walking, and lap swimming.

Personally, I have a small bias toward swimming, as I grew up as a competitive swimmer and still hit the pool once a week. Swimming offers a full-body workout that can boost the heart rate, tone the muscles, and increase flexibility, all the while being easy on the joints. And if your employees are like me and easily lose count of laps as soon as they dive in, let them know that several Fitbit devices work as swim-proof stat trackers that can record swimming duration, distance, pace, and calories burned.

Include strength exercises. Strength or resistance training is another great way to improve your heart health. Strength training increases your heart rate during reps and allows for recovery between sets. The CDC and the American Heart Association recommend adults participate in strength training exercises at least twice a week on nonconsecutive days. Also note that for the best results, you can pair strength training with aerobic exercises.

If you’re short on time (aren’t we all?), look for strength training programs that involve all your muscle groups such as push-ups, sit-ups, and squats. If your employees need a coach or teacher, Fitbit Premium provides a set of short, on-demand classes and guided workouts that can help your employees boost activity and focus on specific muscle groups. My personal favorite is the Fitbit Premium “30-Minute Feel-Good Strength and Cardio Workout,” a high-energy class that quickly gets my heart rate up and offers some superwoman-style fitness training.

Stay active all day. Aim at being active all day in small ways, such as walking to work, taking the stairs, parking at the furthest spot on the lot, or biking to run errands. At home, digging in the dirt while gardening is a fun way to stay active for hours at a time. Even vacuuming, cleaning or shoveling snow off your driveway–while less fun—definitely burns a respectable number of calories.

Just aim to keep your heart and your body working all day. If you are like me and have a desk job, wearing a Fitbit device can help you assess how active (or how sluggish) you are throughout each day. And setting reminders to move on the Fitbit device is a helpful way to hit hourly activity goals and reduce the negative effects of sitting.

Don’t neglect the stretch. Even though stretching doesn’t directly impact heart health, it’s an essential component of exercise and can help decrease the chances of getting muscle cramps, joint aches, and muscle pain during your exercise.

Exercises such as pilates, yoga, and tai chi can improve your balance and flexibility. But make sure you incorporate a stretching routine after a cardio or strength workout, too. Remember that the best exercise regimen is the one you can stick to.

To get even more ideas on helping your employees improve heart health, download our heart health tip sheets.

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Tip Sheet: Boost Heart Health With Physical Activity

Now is the perfect time for you and your employees to take better care of your tickers. With our tip sheet, they’ll get the heart-healthy advice they need, and you’ll get to shine as the wellness rock star that you are.

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