Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the narrowing of the arteries of the heart due to the buildup of plaque and is the leading contributor to the social impact and cost of illness in Australia. It affects double the number of Australian men than women, making it a disease of concern especially among men who want to stay healthy. One study offers some insights as to why there’s a gender gap. First, men may be less adaptive behaviorally, emotionally, and physiologically when it comes to stressful events. And second, men may resort to habits that add to the risks of coronary disease such as excessive smoking and alcohol consumption to cope with stress. Another study cites that women’s naturally occurring hormone levels may protect them from heart disease before menopause.
Heart health: knowing the signs of a healthy heart
It’s no secret that having a healthy heart is central to your overall health and well-being. So, how can you tell if your heart is healthy? First, how fast or slow does your heart beat? The standard heart rate ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute. Second, are you able to breathe normally? That’s an indicator that your cardiovascular system is functioning well. Third, how’s your blood pressure? Fourth, let’s check your cholesterol levels. Fifth, does your heart rate recover quickly after you exercise vigorously? And sixth, how’s your dental health? It may sound surprising but bacteria from periodontal diseases may lead to plaque buildup and inflammation of the arteries. It is recommended to always consult your health professional to know your heart health.
The heart of the matter: how exercise can help your heart’s health
Aside from making lifestyle changes, exercise is one of the ways to keep your heart healthy. The appropriate exercise routine can provide optimal benefits while promoting safety. When undertaken regularly, exercise can help lower your blood pressure, lessen insulin resistance and consequently, the risk of developing diabetes, help maintain a healthy body weight, reduce inflammation, and reduce stress. In summary, among exercise’s key benefits is its ability to help control or modify the risk factors for heart disease.
What are the ideal exercises for heart health?
Some studies have shown that the most ideal exercises for heart health would be the ones that have a positive effect on the heart as well as bring improvement to your musculoskeletal system. It is recommended that you combine aerobic exercises such as swimming, walking or jogging, and biking, with resistance training to obtain the greatest benefit for the prevention and management of heart disease.
Aerobic exercise can help improve your endurance and stamina. If you’re not keen on attending group exercise classes, there are alternative ways – walking or running at a moderate pace, riding a bike outdoors or a stationary bike indoors, swimming, hiking, rowing, using a jump rope, or doing HIIT (high-intensity interval training) such as executing a circuit of burpees, jumping jacks, mountain climber moves followed by short recovery periods.
On the other hand, resistance training can build up your muscle strength and flexibility by working against resistance. You can either use free weights, weight machines, resistance bands, or your body weight.
It’s best to consult a health professional such as a Physiotherapist or Exercise Physiologist before starting an exercise program, especially if you have pre-existing conditions. They will first assess your health condition and use that assessment as a basis for your exercise routine.
How often should I exercise?
The general guidelines recommend getting at least 30 minutes of accumulated aerobic exercise at least five days a week. For resistance training, it’s working out at least twice a week or enough times to cover all the major muscle groups – the chest, shoulders, back, biceps, triceps, abs, thighs, thighs, hamstrings, and calves.
It is recommended to allow from 12 to 48 hours of rest and recovery in between some workouts so you won’t feel sore.
A simple way of ensuring you’re exercising within a safe range is to keep within your target rate as recommended by your Exercise Physiologist or Physiotherapist. Are you feeling sore? Too fatigued to move the next day? You might be overdoing your exercise routine and need to scale back or check your form. If you’re experiencing persistent pain, it may be due to overuse or an injury. It’s best to consult your health professional to address this issue.
Developing the habit of exercising
Incorporating exercise into your daily life can take time and effort. The key is to stay motivated and interested. Keeping track of your progress may motivate you to keep exercising for the long haul. Three of the most common ways to do so are reaching your target heart rate, counting the number of repetitions you do for resistance training, and measuring your fat-muscle body composition.
Here are some strategies you can also adapt to make exercise a habit. Set a specific amount of time daily for exercise – that way, working out becomes a priority, not an afterthought. You can also buddy up with a friend to increase accountability. Or if you prefer a group setting, you can join a gym.
What’s the ideal exercise for patients recovering from a heart attack?
Among the key benefits of exercise is its ability to modify and manage the risks of heart disease. But what about men who are already diagnosed with a heart condition?
It’s vital to consult with your health professional. Generally, people with a heart condition can benefit from moderate-intensity exercise, accumulating up to 150 minutes or two and a half hours of weekly physical activity. Moderate intensity means increasing your heart and breathing rates while still being able to hold a conversation.
Some exercises that were deemed potentially risky for heart failure patients before are now found to be beneficial. As an example, some of the latest studies have indicated that hydrotherapy in warm water could have advantages over land training and may help improve cardiac function in patients with chronic heart failure. Again, it’s best to consult with a health professional who is updated on the latest information and studies to advise you.
A Holistic Approach to Therapy for Heart Health
Our Hurstville Allied Health clinic features both a hydrotherapy pool and gym space in one location for a more holistic approach to therapy. For building strength, our gym space provides a conducive environment for training with complete facilities. On the other hand, our Hydrotherapy pool can provide a venue for challenging your muscles and building up your stamina while being kinder to your joints. You can also join our Staying Active group exercise classes in Hurstville with two types of training on offer – strength classes in the gym, and aqua classes in the pool.
Men may be more prone to heart issues but the need for exercise to manage or modify the risks of heart disease applies to everyone regardless of gender or health condition. Exercise is too important not to incorporate into one’s life whether you’re healthy or even if you’re already diagnosed with a heart condition.
At Healthstin, our Exercise Physiologists, Physiotherapists, and Occupational Therapists are always ready to support you in providing a customised treatment plan suited to your condition and ensuring that the physical activities you undertake will be both effective and safe. To know more about us or to book a session, call 1300 090 931.