10 easy-to-do exercises for a healthy heart
High rep squats
These don’t just shape your thigh and butt muscles, but pump your heart to give it a great workout. The consistent up-and-down movement of the body makes it a good balance and endurance exercise too. It is also a functional movement that comes into use in various daily activities, like standing up from a deep chair, jumping while playing recreational sports, etc.
Focus on technique and control and don’t go heavy duty with the weights in this case. Aim to perform three sets of 20 repetitions.
This yoga move will strengthen the upper body and keep it supple. It’s a great exercise for the muscles in the shoulder girdle, arms, lower back, calves and the hip flexor muscles. The repetitive movement of going up from the ground to standing is a great heart-pumping exercise.
Pushing past your physical capacity can make this ineffective and might give you strains and injuries. Beginners are better off resting their knees and upper body on the ground when they go down.
Water can be a great medium to give you a super effective cardiovascular workout. It also allows you to keep the body covered by the water till the neck, which can be stress-free while exercising in a public space, especially for the body-conscious. Swimming laps can be a safe yet intense exercise form while still keeping you cool.
Beginners can start off with continuous walks in the pool that can do you good before you progress further. You shouldn’t eat a heavy meal before a good swim session.
This is one of the cheapest, simplest effective workouts for your heart and can be done in a small space and is so effective that it’s a favourite for professional boxers. Even moderate skipping for around 15 minutes can burn up to 200 calories! If you feel like Mike Tyson, then use the heavy jump rope which weighs 500gm, instead of the regular 250gm rope.
Wear well-cushioned shoes and keep your knees soft as you land.
This old-school machine gives an excellent full-body workout that combines the benefits of cardiovascular and muscle endurance training. The continuous coordinated movement of the arms and legs will give you a great heart-pumping workout and helps tone the arms and upper back.
Learn the basics of rowing technique to get the best out of it.
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)
This is a very powerful concept in training that deals with alternating between short bursts of intense exercise and brief periods of rest or less intense exercise. An example would be running for one minute followed by walking for one minute or 30 seconds, repeated 10 to 15 times. HIIT allows you to accomplish the same amount of exercise in a lot less time.
Take it easy in the beginning if you’re not used to high intensity training. Avoid using HIIT every day.
Whether on a stationary bike or outdoors, the main advantage is that your body weight is carried by the seat, thus reducing the load on your knees and lower back. Also the continuous, non-impact pedalling can place smooth and constant tension on the leg muscles and make the heart work as hard as you want it to.
Build up to at least 20 minutes of continuous cycling before you begin to add greater rotations or resistance.
This works by mixing aerobic moves with strengthening ones and result in a heart-pulsating workout that’ll tire you, but make you fitter. The combinations and mixes are endless in circuit training. For example, you could perform 10 push-ups and then sprint 100 metres followed by a one-minute abdominal plank followed by dumbbell shoulder presses.
It results in gains in real world fitness, coupled with a fitter heart that can help you cope with your strength and stamina requirements.
Pace yourself and try to beat your performance.
This involves jump training for the upper and lower body. The movements are explosive and therefore involve the fast-twitch muscle fibres in the body, making you more powerful. No wonder it is incorporated into the fitness conditioning of most high-level sportspersons.
Perform with the utmost care, as it can be as dangerous as it is effective.
Slow, continuous walking offers a consistent and steady workout to the heart. It is apt for fitness newbies, those recovering from injuries and the elderly. Though calories burnt in the same time in walking are much lower in comparison to higher intensity cardiovascular exercises, the good news is that the greater part of calories used while walking come from burning fat.
Keep your pace to a level where you’re able to carry on a conversation if need be.
(The author is counted among the foremost fitness experts in India. Deckline Leitao, CSCS NASM-PES, CES, CPT, is well known for his personal training expertise and also works closely with Olympic-hopefuls. He has trained some of the best sportspeople.)
From HT Brunch, September 24, 2017
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