Menstuff® has compiled the following information on Exercises
for a Health Heart.
Exercise for a Healthy Heart
Exercise for a Healthy Heart - Contradiction
- Couch Potatoes Live Longer
Exercise for a Healthy Heart
A sedentary (inactive) lifestyle is one of the top risk factors for
heart disease. Fortunately, it's a risk factor that you can do
something about. Regular exercise, especially aerobic exercise, has
many benefits. It can:
- Strengthen your heart and cardiovascular system.
- Improve your circulation and help your body use oxygen
- Improve your heart failure symptoms.
- Increase energy levels so you can do more activities without
becoming tired or short of breath.
- Increase endurance.
- Lower blood pressure.
- Improve muscle tone and strength.
- Improve balance and joint flexibility.
- Strengthen bones.
- Help reduce body fat and help you reach a healthy weight.
- Help reduce stress, tension, anxiety and depression.
- Boost self-image and self-esteem.
- Improve sleep.
- Make you feel more relaxed and rested.
- Make you look fit and feel healthy.
How Do I Get Started?
Before starting an exercise program, talk to your doctor
- Medication changes. New medications can greatly affect
your response to exercise; your doctor can tell you if your normal
exercise routine is still safe.
- Heavy lifting. Make sure that lifting or pushing heavy
objects and chores such as raking, shoveling, mowing, or scrubbing
aren't off limits. Chores around the house can be tiring for some
people; make sure you only do what you are able to do without
- Safe exercises. Get the doctor's approval before you
lift weights, use a weight machine, jog, or swim.
What Type of Exercise Is Best?
- Stretching: slow lengthening of the muscles. Stretching
the arms and legs before and after exercising helps prepare the
muscles for activity and helps prevent injury and muscle strain.
Regular stretching also increases your range of motion and
- Cardiovascular or aerobic: steady physical activity
using large muscle groups. This type of exercise strengthens the
heart and lungs and improves the body's ability to use oxygen.
Aerobic exercise has the most benefits for your heart. Over time,
aerobic exercise can help decrease your heart rate and blood
pressure at rest and improve your breathing.
- Strengthening: repeated muscle contractions
(tightening) until the muscle becomes tired. For people with heart
failure, many strengthening exercises are not recommended. (See
What Are Examples of Aerobic Exercises?
Aerobic exercises include: walking, jogging, jumping rope,
bicycling (stationary or outdoor), cross-country skiing, skating,
rowing and low-impact aerobics or water aerobics.
How Often Should I Exercise?
In general, to achieve maximum benefits, you should gradually work
up to an aerobic session lasting 20 to 30 minutes, at least three to
four times a week. Exercising every day or every other day will help
you keep a regular aerobic exercise schedule.
What Should I Include in My Program?
Every exercise session should include a warm-up, conditioning
phase and a cool-down.
- Warm-up. This helps your body adjust slowly from rest
to exercise. A warm-up reduces the stress on your heart and
muscles, slowly increases your breathing, circulation (heart rate)
and body temperature. It also helps improve flexibility and reduce
muscle soreness. The best warm-up includes stretching, range of
motion activities and the beginning of the activity at a low
- Conditioning. This follows the warm-up. During the
conditioning phase, the benefits of exercise are gained and
calories are burned. Be sure to monitor the intensity of the
activity (check your heart rate). Don't over do it.
- Cool-down. This is the last phase of your exercise
session. It allows your body to gradually recover from the
conditioning phase. Your heart rate and blood pressure will return
to near resting values. Cool-down does not mean to sit down! In
fact, do not sit, stand still or lie down right after exercise.
This may cause you to feel dizzy or lightheaded or have heart
palpitations (fluttering in your chest). The best cool-down is to
slowly decrease the intensity of your activity. You may also do
some of the same stretching activities you did in the warm-up
What Is the Rated Perceived Exertion Scale?
The Rated Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale is used to measure the
intensity of your exercise. The RPE scale runs from 0-10. The numbers
below relate to phrases used to rate how easy or difficult you find
an activity. For example, 0 (nothing at all) would be how you feel
when sitting in a chair; 10 (very, very heavy) would be how you feel
at the end of an exercise stress test or after a very difficult
Rated Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale
0 Nothing at all
0.5 Just noticeable
1 Very light
4 Somewhat heavy
7-9 Very heavy
10 Very, very heavy
In most cases, you should exercise at a level that feels 3
(moderate) to 4 (somewhat heavy). When using this rating scale,
remember to include feelings of shortness of breath, as well as how
tired you feel in your legs and overall.
What Are Some Warm-Up Exercises?
Every exercise session should start with a warm-up. Here are some
stretching exercises you can try to get yourself started. Please
check with your doctor before starting any exercise program. If any
of the following exercises causes pain, do not continue the activity
and seek the advice of a doctor or physical therapist.
Exercise while sitting
While performing these exercises, maintain good posture. Keep your
back straight; do not curve or slump your back. Make sure your
movements are controlled and slow. Avoid quick, jerking movements. Do
not bounce. Do not hold your breath during these exercises.
- Ankle pumping. Sit on the floor with your feet straight
out in front of you. Keeping your heels on the floor, lift your
toes up as far as you can. Hold for a count of five.
- Knee straightening. Raise your foot to fully straighten
your knee out in front of you. Hold for a count of five. Lower
your foot to the floor. Repeat on other side.
- Hip bending. Lift one knee up toward the ceiling. As
you lower this knee, raise your other knee. Alternate each leg as
if you were marching in place (while sitting.)
- Overhead reaching. Raise one arm straight over your
head, with your palm facing away from you. Keep your elbow
straight. Slowly lower your arm to your side. Repeat with other
- Shoulder touching. Sit with your arms at your sides and
your palms facing up. Bend your elbows until your hands are
touching your shoulders. Lower your hands to your sides.
- Single arm lifts. Sit with your arms at your sides,
fingers pointing toward the floor. Raise one arm out to your side,
keeping your elbow straight and your palm facing down. Slowly
lower your arm to your side. Repeat with your other arm.
- Shoulder shrugs. Keeping your back straight, lift your
shoulders up and forward toward your ears. Release your shoulders
down and back in a smooth circular motion.
- Arm circles. Sit with your arms at your sides, fingers
pointing toward the floor. Raise both arms out from your sides
(about 1 or 2 feet from your body). Keeping your elbows straight
and your palms facing toward you, rotate your arms in small
- Single shoulder circles. Bending one elbow, put your
fingertips on your shoulder. Rotate your shoulder and elbow
clockwise, then counter clockwise. Repeat with each arm.
While performing these exercises, make sure your movements are
controlled and slow. Avoid quick, jerking movements. Stretch until a
gentle pull is felt in your muscle. Hold each stretch without
bouncing or causing pain for 20 to 30 seconds. Do not hold your
breath during these exercises.
- Hamstring stretch. While standing, place one foot on a
stool or chair, while holding onto a wall or sturdy object (such
as a table). Choose a comfortable height that allows you to keep
your knee straight. Slowly lean forward, keeping your back
straight, and reach one hand down your shin until you feel a
stretch in the back of your thigh. Relax, and then repeat with
your other leg.
- Quadriceps stretch. Stand facing a wall, placing one
hand against the wall for support. Bend one knee, grasping your
ankle and pulling your leg behind you. Try to touch your heel to
your buttocks. Relax, and then repeat with your other leg.
- Calf stretch against wall. Stand facing the wall with
your hands against the wall for support. Put one foot about 12
inches in front of the other. Bend your front knee, and keep your
other leg straight. (Keep both heels on the floor.) To prevent
injury, do not let your bent knee extend forward past your toes.
Slowly lean forward until you feel a mild stretch in the calf of
your straight leg. Relax, and then repeat with your other
- Calf stretch on stairs. Stand on the stairs, holding a
handrail or placing your hand on the wall for support. Place the
ball of one foot on the stair. Lower your heel down toward the
step below, until you feel a gentle pull in your calf. Switch
- Knee pull. Lie on your back and flatten the small of
your back onto the floor. Bend one knee and pull your bent leg
toward your chest, until you feel a pull in your lower back. Try
to keep your head on the floor, but do not strain yourself. Gently
lower your leg, and then repeat with your other leg.
- Groin stretch. Lie on your back with your knees bent
and the soles of your feet together. Slowly lower your knees to
the floor until you feel a gentle pull in your groin and inner
- Overhead arm pull. Lock your fingers together, with
your palms facing out (or hold onto a towel so your hands are
shoulder width apart). Extend your arms out in front of you with
your elbows straight. Lift your arms to shoulder height. Raise
your arms overhead until you feel a gentle pull in your chest or
- Behind back arm raise. At waist level, put your hands
behind your back, locking your fingers together (or hold onto a
towel so your hands are shoulder width apart). Straighten your
elbows and raise your arms upward until you feel a gentle pull in
your chest or shoulders.
- Side bends. Stand straight with your legs about
shoulder width apart. Reach over your head with one arm, elbow
bent, sliding the opposite arm and hand down your thigh, toward
your knee. Hold the stretch until you feel a gentle pull at your
side. Repeat with other side.
- Double shoulder circles. While bending your elbows, put
your fingertips on your shoulders. Rotate your shoulders and
elbows clockwise, then counter clockwise, as if drawing large
circles with both elbows. Repeat in each direction.
- Leg circles. Hold onto a chair or other sturdy object
for balance. Lift one leg straight behind you, keeping both knees
straight. Rotate your leg clockwise, then counter clockwise, as if
drawing small circles with your foot. (You should feel the
movement at your hip joint). Repeat in each direction, with each
How Can I Avoid Over Doing It?
Here are a few guidelines:
- Gradually increase your activity level, especially if you have
not been exercising regularly.
- Wait at least one and a half hours after eating a meal before
- When drinking liquids during exercise, remember to follow your
fluid restriction guidelines.
- Take time to include a five-minute warm-up, including
stretching exercises, before any aerobic activity and include a
five- to 10-minute cool down after the activity. Stretching can be
done while standing or sitting.
- Exercise at a steady pace. Keep a pace that allows you to
still talk during the activity.
- Keep an exercise record.
How Can I Stick With It?
- Have fun! Choose an activity that you enjoy. You'll be more
likely to stick with an exercise program if you enjoy the
activity. Here are some questions you can think about before
choosing a routine:
- What physical activities do I enjoy?
- Do I prefer group or individual activities?
- What programs best fit my schedule?
- Do I have physical conditions that limit my choice of
- What goals do I have in mind? (For example, losing weight,
strengthening muscles or improving flexibility.)
- Schedule exercise into your daily routine. Plan to exercise at
the same time every day (such as in the mornings when you have
more energy). Add a variety of exercises so that you do not get
bored. If you exercise regularly, it will soon become part of your
- Find an exercise "buddy." This will help you stay
Also, exercise does not have to put a strain on your wallet. Avoid
buying expensive equipment or health club memberships unless you are
certain you will use them regularly.
General Workout Tips for People With Heart Failure
Be sure any exercise is paced and balanced with rest.
- Avoid isometric exercises such as push-ups and sit-ups.
Isometric exercises involve straining muscles against other
muscles or an immovable object.
- Don't exercise outdoors when it is too cold, hot, or humid.
High humidity may cause you to tire more quickly; extreme
temperatures can interfere with circulation, make breathing
difficult, and cause chest pain. Better choices are indoor
activities such as mall walking.
- Make sure you stay hydrated. It is important to drink water
even before you feel thirsty, especially on hot days. But, be
careful not to drink too much water. Follow your doctor's
guidelines about how much fluid you can have in a day.
- Extremely hot and cold showers or sauna baths should be
avoided after exercise. These extreme temperatures increase the
workload on the heart.
- Steer clear of exercise in hilly areas. If you must walk in
steep areas, make sure you slowdown when going uphill to avoid
working too hard. Monitor your heart rate closely.
- If your exercise program has been interrupted for a few days
(for example, due to illness, vacation, or bad weather), make sure
you ease back into the routine. Start with a reduced level of
activity, and gradually increase it until you are back where you
There are many precautions you must keep in mind when developing
an exercise program. Here are some tips.
- Stop the exercise if you become overly fatigued or short of
breath; discuss the symptoms with you doctor or schedule an
appointment for evaluation.
- Do not exercise if you are not feeling well or have a fever.
You should wait a few days after all symptoms disappear before
restarting the exercise program, unless your doctor gives other
- If you experience shortness of breath or increased fatigue
during any activity, slow down or stop the activity. Elevate your
feet when resting. If you continue to have shortness of breath,
call your doctor. The doctor may make changes in medications,
diet, or fluid restrictions.
- Stop the activity if you develop a rapid or irregular
heartbeat or have heart palpitations. Check your pulse after you
have rested for 15 minutes. If it's still above 120-150 beats per
minute, call the doctor for further instructions.
If you experience pain:
- Don't ignore it. If you have chest pain or pain anywhere else
in the body, do not allow the activity to continue. Performing an
activity while in pain may cause stress or damage to the
Stop the exercise and rest if you:
- Have chest pain
- Feel weak
- Are dizzy or lightheaded
- Have unexplained weight gain or swelling (call the doctor
- Have pressure or pain in the chest, neck, arm, jaw, or
- Have any other symptoms that cause concern
Call the doctor if you have symptoms that do not go away.
Reviewed by the doctors at the The Cleveland Clinic Heart
Exercise for a
Healthy Heart - Contradiction - Couch Potatoes Live Longer
(Direct shortcut to this page at
A new study confirms what Ive suspected for years: Cardio
shrinks your telomeres.
Even a couch potato who does no exercise at all may be better off
from a telomere length standpoint than the folks who run marathons
and spend hours on treadmills.
Why is this important to you?
Because many of todays most widespread conditions and
illnesses are associated with shorter telomeres. Telomeres are the
tiny genetic clocks that tell your cells how old they
Today, Ill show you the simple alternative to cardio that
can help you maintain your telomeres, so you can live stronger and
Its the opposite of aerobics and other endurance exercises,
which shorten your telomeres and make you more susceptible to cancer
and heart disease.
In one telomere study, people with the longest telomeres were the
least likely to develop cancer. They were more than 10 times less
likely to develop cancer than people with short telomeres.1
And when I read further into the study, I discovered that people with
short telomeres are twice as likely to die from cancer.
Another study shows that the death rate for heart attacks is
almost three times higher for people whose telomeres get short the
As bad as it is to have accelerated telomere loss, thats
exactly what endurance exercise does. And the studies proving it have
been completely ignored by mainstream fitness
In one, researchers followed up on the known fact that long-term,
cardio-type exercise damages your muscle cells. They decided to take
it a little further and examine the damaged cells. One of the things
they looked at was the length of the telomeres inside these muscle
Athletes with exercise fatigue the athletes
doing the long-duration cardio workouts had much shorter than
The title of this study, as it appeared in the journal Medicine
& Science in Sports & Exercise, sums it up perfectly:
Athletes with exercise-associated fatigue have abnormally short
muscle DNA telomeres...
And, if thats not enough, in another more recent study
researchers compared trained athletes to sedentary
They looked at the telomere lengths of trained athletes doing
cardio vs. coach potatoes who did no exercise at all.
The couch potatoes had longer telomeres than the endurance
In fact, the experienced runners ALL had shorter telomeres than
the people doing no exercise. Whats more, the longer the
runners ran, the shorter their telomeres.
Fortunately for you, we now have the ability to influence the
length of these tiny genetic clocks. You can have younger-acting
cells and help avoid age-related problems by maintaining your
The most powerful way to do this is to do the opposite of what
fitness experts recommend.
Instead of hours of low-power exercises like running and cardio,
you can maintain the length of your telomeres with shorter periods of
exertion where you challenge yourself a bit more.
You see, cardio is a low-power exercise. Think about what
its like when you run its steady plodding and
pounding for a long period of time.
What you want to do instead is give your body a challenge, and do
it over shorter periods of time.
For instance, one study done at the University of California in
San Francisco found that vigorous exertion protects you from high
stress by protecting your telomeres.3
And there are dozens more trials that show the same thing.
So, instead of cardiovascular endurance exercise, think
You can do this kind of exertion by keeping the time brief, and
challenging your heart and lungs just a bit more with each set of
exertion, and with each workout. This is called
progressivity, and its what every modern workout
Progressivity means you increase the difficulty (pick up the pace
or increase the resistance) just a little bit with each set, and in
each workout after that.
Doing just a little bit more, or changing it up in some way to
give your heart and lungs a different challenge gives you the same
benefit as increasing the time you spend working out.
Youll reprogram your muscles, heart and lungs to get
stronger and more responsive. And youll reverse the wear and
tear on your body and maintain your telomeres instead of breaking
them down faster.
With that in mind, let me give you one movement you can do right
in your own home, no equipment necessary, that will challenge your
heart, lungs and several large muscle groups.
Its called a Dive Bomber.
1. Begin with your body looking like an upside-down V
from the side. Position yourself like you would for a pushup, but
with your butt up in the air, and your head between your arms. (If
youre familiar with yoga, it should look like a
2. Next, swoop your head, followed by your body, downward as if
you were a bird or plane diving toward the ground.
3. Then drive your torso straight up, so that youre looking
directly ahead. Keep the hips low to the ground and your hands
directly below your shoulders. It will be as if you were trying to
dive under a large ball hanging over your back. (In yoga, this
position is called cobra.)
A true dive-bomber pushup means you repeat the above steps in
reverse order until youre back to your original starting
position, staying as fluid and smooth as possible.
If youve never done a dive bomber before, start with just a
few. Go slowly, especially if running or some extreme workout program
has caused you to hurt your back in the past. This movement is
designed so that you can be progressive without going faster to
increase the challenge.
You can add progressivity by holding the pose in each direction a
bit longer, or do a few more than you did last time. Or you can do a
calf raise or a set of calf raises before each Dive Bomb.
And remember, working out should be fun. You dont have to do
a regimented number of movements, and you dont have to strictly
time yourself. You can change it up. Just keep it progressive.
To Your Good Health,
Source: Al Sears, MD eMail
1. Armanios M, Alder J, Parry E, Karim B, Strong
M, Greider C. Short Telomeres are Sufficient to Cause the
Degenerative Defects Associated with Aging. Am J Hum Genet.
2009 December 11; 85(6): 823832.
2. Epel E, Blackburn E. Unpublished study in
Aging, as reported to Cathryn Delude in Genetic clues to
predicting life span: Inside chromosomes are telomeres that age as we
age, and may serve as indicators of how long well live.
Los Angeles Times. March 2, 2009.
3. Puterman E, Lin J, Blackburn E, ODonovan
A, Adler N, et al. The Power of Exercise: Buffering the Effect
of Chronic Stress on Telomere Length. PLoS ONE May 2010. 5(5):
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