Easy cardio exercises to keep your heart healthy

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What are cardio exercises?

Cardio (or aerobic) exercise is a form of intense exercise that increases the heart rate and breathing and maximizes the amount of oxygen in the blood. It allows oxygen to be used by the body more efficiently improves the health of various vital organs.

How do cardio exercises benefit the heart?

Cardio exercises help in managing weight and blood pressure, which can otherwise damage the blood vessels of the heart. These exercises reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol and raise the levels of ‘good’ cholesterol in the body. Cardio exercise improves blood circulation while improving the body’s ability to use insulin.

How much exercise is essential to maintain heart health?

As per the World Health Organization (WHO), one must take up moderate-intensity physical activity for at least 30 minutes at least 5 days a week (150 minutes per week). The intensity and duration of exercising can be increased with time.

Which cardio exercises make the heart healthy?

There are two types of cardio exercises; moderate-intensity and vigorous-intensity. Moderate-intensity exercises include brisk walking, water aerobics, and dancing, while vigorous-intensity aerobic exercises include running, swimming, cycling, jumping rope, hiking, etc. A combination of both forms of exercises can support beneficial outcomes.

#1 - Brisk walking

Brisk walking is one of the best cardiovascular exercises that does not require any professional guidance and can be practised anywhere. As per the American Heart Association, brisk walking helps in reducing cholesterol and blood pressure and simultaneously improves energy levels.

#2 - Cycling

Studies have shown that people who cycle regularly have a 15% lower risk of experiencing a heart attack as compared to non-cyclists. Cycling involves the use of leg muscles, which improves their strength and also helps in reducing weight. Research further shows that cycling also helps in reversing heart damage.

#3 - Swimming

Swimming helps in strengthening the muscles of the arms and legs. By training the body to use oxygen more efficiently, swimming helps in reducing the extra load on the heart and lungs, thereby reducing the resting heart and breathing rate. It also improves blood circulation.

#4 - Rope skipping

Rope skipping or jumping is one of the best cardio exercises and requires minimal equipment (a jump rope). It is known to lower the risk of heart diseases. Studies show that if one jumps rope for 20 minutes continuously, they can burn about 220 calories.

#5 - Kickboxing

Kickboxing is a high-intensity cardio workout that improves the ability of the heart, blood vessels, and lungs to supply oxygen-rich blood to the body. Research shows that practising kickboxing for 10 minutes straight can burn over 100 calories. Kickboxing improves cardiac strength by lowering blood pressure and improving blood circulation.

#6 - Running up the stairs

This is one of the easiest and most effective cardio exercises. It improves the endurance of the heart, burns calories and reduces extra weight. It simply involves running or walking up the stairs at a fast pace and then walking back down slowly to recover.

#7 - Jumping jacks

Jumping jack is a cardio workout that can be done at home. All you need to do is repeatedly jump while keeping the feet wide and circling the arms overhead. Studies reveal practising jumping jacks for 10 minutes, continuously can help burn around 100 calories.

What precautions are needed to be taken while doing these exercises?

Before starting any cardio exercise, people with a pre-existing medical condition, pregnant women, and immunocompromised people must consult their doctor. One must stop exercising if they feel pain or pressure in their chest, break out into a cold sweat, have difficulty in breathing, and feel dizzy or lightheaded.

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