If you’re looking to improve your heart health, the American Heart Association recommends shooting for at least 150 minutes of exercise each week. But if you’re short on time or new to exercise, you’re probably wondering which moves will give you the most “bang for your buck.”
According to Matthew Leske, personal trainer with ProMedica Wildwood Athletic Club, having a personalized exercise plan can improve your cardiovascular system. In addition, it can improve how your body uses oxygen, how your metabolism works and your body composition.
The keys to exercises that strengthen the heart and supporting systems are time, intensity and tempo.
Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced athlete, here are of Leske’s ideas for strengthening your heart.
For the beginner
If you’re new to fitness, select exercises that limit the impact on your joints. Also, it’s important that beginner exercises focus on conditioning and generating a low amount of stress on the heart.
Beginners should start out with a low to moderate intensity level. Using the elliptical, arc training and rowing machine are recommended. These exercises allow your metabolism to catch up and improve your body’s responses. Plus, these machines can accommodate various intensity levels.
For those with experience
“Being at the intermediate level may include task-involved exercises that require mental drive and technical ability,” says Leske.
Exercises at this level could include sprinting on level or inclined surfaces and jumping rope. Sprinting is productively tough on the heart, which helps improve your body’s use of oxygen. Jumping rope stresses the upper and lower body. These exercises are moderate to high intensity with a steady interval.
For advanced athletes
The advanced level is intended to place submaximal to maximal stress on the cardiovascular system, lungs, metabolism, and musculoskeletal system, says Leske. That means that the exercises push you closer to your maximum capacity. The exercises also require technical ability and good technique. Examples include high volume intensity weight lifting, interval training, weighted carries with kettle bells, and sled pushes and pulls. While in this stage, your body is conditioning for performance activities.
Combining intermediate modes of exercise in this category produces a very comprehensive cardiovascular training program.
There is a lot of freedom when it comes to strengthening the heart. Being as creative as possible is the key to making sure your body doesn’t get stuck in the monotony of a 30–40-minute treadmill workout.
According to Leske, having a diverse training program shaped by your goals can improve your health outcome.
It is never too late to change your lifestyle habits. Contact your physician if you have questions on which exercises are appropriate for your heart.