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Exercise good for your heart: 6 Best Exercises to Strengthen Your Heart

6 Best Exercises to Strengthen Your Heart


Intermountain Healthcare

Strengthening your heart is one of the best things you can do for your health. And as you know, the best way to strengthen your heart is to exercise. In fact, if you don’t exercise you’re more than twice as likely to get heart disease as someone who does. If you have a history of heart disease, or just worry about your heart health, you need to develop a regular exercise routine. Experts recommend you spend at least 150 minutes doing moderate exercise per week.

But is all exercise created equal? Here are the best exercises to strengthen your heart.

Yes, it might seem a little too easy. But walking, especially speed walking, is a great way to strengthen your heart. Walking fast will get your heart rate up and is easier on your joints than other types of exercise. You can walk anywhere at any time. All you need is a pair of supportive shoes. Do a short walk during your lunch break or a longer walk on the weekend. You can listen to music, a podcast, or walk with a friend. The flexibility of walking makes it easy for anyone to do — and to keep doing it.

Building the other muscles in your body will help your heart. Weight training will help you build muscle mass and burn fat. Although you can hit the gym to train with weights, some of the most effective weight training happens when you use your own body weight. Things like push-ups, squats, or even pull-ups all help you build muscle and contribute to bone and heart health.

Swimming isn’t just for lazy summer afternoons. Taking a water aerobics class or swimming laps can be a full-body workout that will strengthen not only your body, but your heart. Unlike other types of exercise, swimming is easy on your joints and allows you to move your body without a lot of pain.

Although it might not seem like it, yoga is great for your heart health. Doing yoga will help you strengthen and tone your muscles. Certain types of yoga can really get your heart rate up, while still providing the calm that will lower your blood pressure.

Interval training — which alternates between short bursts of high-intensity exercise with longer periods of active recovery — is a great way to get a full-sized workout in a short amount of time. For example, you can do it by running for one minute and walking for three minutes, then repeating the cycle. Raising and lowering of your heart rate helps to burn calories and improves the function of your blood vessels.

Jumping on your bike can do more than just get you from one place to another. Cycling has been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease. It uses your large muscles in your legs, which helps to elevate your heart rate. Bonus: Cycling has even been shown to improve your mental health.

Whether you choose to hit a yoga class three times a week, go walking with a friend, or swim every morning, regular exercise is essential to taking care of your heart. Always talk to your doctor before you begin an exercise routine.


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3 Kinds of Exercise That Boost Heart Health

Being physically active is a major step toward good heart health. It’s one
of your most effective tools for strengthening the heart muscle, keeping
your weight under control and warding off the artery damage from high
cholesterol, high blood sugar and high blood pressure that can lead to
heart attack or stroke. 

It’s also true that different types of exercise are needed to provide complete fitness. “Aerobic exercise and resistance training are the most important for heart health,” says Johns Hopkins exercise physiologist Kerry J. Stewart, Ed.D. “Although flexibility doesn’t contribute directly to heart health, it’s nevertheless important because it provides a good foundation for performing aerobic and strength exercises more effectively.”

Here’s how different types of exercise benefit you.

Aerobic Exercise

What it does: Aerobic exercise improves circulation, which results in lowered blood pressure and heart rate, Stewart says. In addition, it increases your overall aerobic fitness, as measured by a treadmill test, for example, and it helps your cardiac output (how well your heart pumps). Aerobic exercise also reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes and, if you already live with diabetes, helps you control your blood glucose.

How much: Ideally, at least 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week.

Examples: Brisk walking, running, swimming, cycling, playing tennis and jumping rope. Heart-pumping aerobic exercise is the kind that doctors have in mind when they recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate activity.

Resistance Training (Strength Work)

What it does: Resistance training has a more specific effect on body composition, Stewart says. For people who are carrying a lot of body fat (including a big belly, which is a risk factor for heart disease), it can help reduce fat and create leaner muscle mass. Research shows that a combination of aerobic exercise and resistance work may help raise HDL (good) cholesterol and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.

How much: At least two nonconsecutive days per week of resistance training is a good rule of thumb, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.

Examples: Working out with free weights (such as hand weights, dumbbells or barbells), on weight machines, with resistance bands or through body-resistance exercises, such as push-ups, squats and chin-ups.

Stretching, Flexibility and Balance

What they do: Flexibility workouts, such as stretching, don’t directly contribute to heart health. What they do is benefit musculoskeletal health, which enables you to stay flexible and free from joint pain, cramping and other muscular issues. That flexibility is a critical part of being able to maintain aerobic exercise and resistance training, says Stewart.

“If you have a good musculoskeletal foundation, that enables you to do the exercises that help your heart,” he says. As a bonus, flexibility and balance exercises help maintain stability and prevent falls, which can cause injuries that limit other kinds of exercise.

How much: Every day and before and after other exercise.

Examples: Your doctor can recommend basic stretches you can do at home, or you can find DVDs or YouTube videos to follow (though check with your doctor if you’re concerned about the intensity of the exercise). Tai chi and yoga also improve these skills, and classes are available in many communities.

How to train the heart and blood vessels

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  • Why you need to train your heart

  • How to train the heart and blood vessels

  • Which workouts have a positive effect on the heart muscle

  • Is it possible to train the heart with heart disease

Moderate exercise is good for the whole body and not least for the cardiovascular system. Strengthening the heart muscle can be done with simple exercises. The main thing is to follow some rules, otherwise, instead of benefiting, you can harm yourself. Today we will tell you why to train the heart and how to do it right.

Why you need to train your heart

Regular exercise helps to become more resistant to stress. Stress has a detrimental effect on the heart, while regular exercise contributes to the production of neurotransmitters and a decrease in the hormone cortisol. But here it is important to understand that during physical, as well as during emotional overload, stress hormones are produced – adrenaline and norepinephrine.

But sports are needed not only for muscle training, but also for getting rid of tension. Therefore, loads in the first place should bring pleasure, but at the same time not become an addiction. If you’re too ambitious, you may be addicted to adrenaline, which is not good for your cardiovascular system. In addition, participation in exhausting marathons can bring another problem – joint diseases and inflammation in the body. Thus, when choosing a sport and the number of loads, it is important to observe moderation. But sports loads not only allow you to get rid of stress, they contribute to an increase in the volume of the heart. A trained heart pumps more blood at a time, i.e. the organ can make fewer contractions. In this case, we are talking about an increase in volume, and not size. With regular exercise, the volume of the lungs also increases, i.e. the body is better saturated with oxygen and the heart does not lack nutrition.

How to train the heart and blood vessels

The main rule to follow during aerobic exercise (cardio) is to control the heart rate. In this case, training gives a noticeable effect even in combination with a small anaerobic (strength) load.

How to train the heart correctly? Everything is pretty simple. When training, it is important to monitor the pulse: the indicators should reach 120-140 beats per minute and remain at the same level throughout the session. In this case, the volume of the heart will increase due to the stretching of the walls. If the pulse increases to 180-200 beats and stays at this level for more than 20 minutes, lactic acid is released, due to which the walls thicken. Thickening leads to the gradual death of cells and an increased risk of a heart attack, so such loads do more harm than good.

Which workouts have a positive effect on the heart muscle

When choosing a sport, you need to take into account both the physical capabilities of the body and your emotional state. If the soul does not lie in any training, it is better to choose other exercises.

Useful training for the heart muscle:

  • Walking. Most suitable for beginners. It is important not to stop for 40-60 minutes and increase your walking speed over time. From walking the heart is not overloaded even in untrained people.
  • Running. You can run both in the gym and in the park, as well as at home on the spot. But, as with other types of exercise, it is important to monitor the pulse. Running may be contraindicated for overweight people.
  • Swimming. Has no contraindications. You can visit the pool for overweight people and patients with diseases of the joints, spine.
  • Walking up stairs. Intense load. At first you can climb several floors, over time you can go higher.
  • Dancing. They train the heart well without overstrain and contribute to the production of endorphins, which allow you to deal with stress.
  • Cycling.
  • Trainers. It is better for beginners to practice in the gym under the supervision of an instructor.

Remember that sports can be played anywhere. It is not necessary to sign up for a gym if a large crowd of people does not allow you to relax. It is important to find a suitable place where you feel comfortable. It can be a park, street, own apartment, office. If, on the contrary, you experience anxiety from a lack of communication, team sports are suitable for you: volleyball, basketball, aqua aerobics. The optimal mode is 30-60 minutes of classes 3-4 times a week.

Is it possible to train the heart with heart disease

Cardiovascular disease is not a contraindication to training. Although it is worth clarifying that cardiac diseases are different and of varying severity, so all classes must be agreed with the doctor.

Physical activity is necessary for those who suffer from heart disease and blood vessels, as well as those who have undergone surgery, but first you need to get the opinion and permission of a cardiologist. If you experience fatigue even from minimal physical activity, you may have problems with the cardiovascular system. In this case, you should undergo an examination and refrain from exertion for a while. If you have already been diagnosed with a heart disease, a consultation with a cardiologist is vital. You can undergo high-quality diagnostics and get advice from an experienced doctor at the Chekhov Vascular Center in the Moscow Region.

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Physical activity for people with cardiovascular disease

Physical activity for people with cardiovascular disease

The human cardiovascular system does not tolerate rest. The middle layer of the heart is a muscular tissue and therefore needs regular training. Moderate cardio 1 : jogging, swimming, cycling, Nordic walking 2 , therapeutic exercises and even regular outdoor walks are ideal for this. An alternative for gym lovers: exercise bike and aerobics. Many useful exercises can be learned from Eastern practices: yoga, qigong 3 and even belly dancing.

The type of physical activity should be chosen taking into account the state of the cardiovascular system. In the presence of chronic diseases, it is necessary to obtain the approval of a cardiologist! For example, the exercise allowed for hypertension may be completely unacceptable for a person who has had a myocardial infarction.

1 Cardio

These are types of physical exercises aimed at strengthening the heart and increasing breathing. During such training, the biochemical process of aerobic glycolysis is launched: when, as a result of oxidation with oxygen, glucose is actively broken down. Cardio loads are directly related to the health of the human cardiovascular system.

2 Nordic walking

Nordic walking Sauvakävely – walking with sticks). The founders of this sport are Finnish skiers who trained with sticks in the summer. In the late 90s of the XX century, Nordic walking became popular all over the world. Numerous studies confirm that CX has a beneficial effect on the functioning of the heart: it is especially good for high blood pressure. In fans of this sport, after a few months, systolic pressure drops from 4 to 9mmHg.

3 Qigong

Qigong — Literally translated from Chinese means — work with energy (qi — energy, gunn — action, work, skill). Qigong is an ancient art based on the idea of ​​the existence of a special qi energy that permeates the whole world. And although the scientific world has not yet recognized the existence of this energy, Qigong is successfully practiced all over the world. Once a closely guarded secret by Taoist monks, the exercises today help many people gain physical health and spiritual balance.

  • Atherosclerosis, obesity

A sick heart and excess weight are interconnected. The more kilograms, the higher the level of cardiovascular risk. The most effective way to reduce risks is to make exercise a part of your life, for example, start running.

However, if the body weight is significantly higher than normal, a very cautious start is important. Doctors recommend starting with a diet and simple walking. And only when the weight starts to decrease, you can start running: jogging, gradually increasing the duration of the session.

For starters, 10 minutes a day is enough. Ideally, you need to run for 30-40 minutes several times a week. Improving the condition of the heart and blood vessels will not keep you waiting: for example, every 5 kilograms dropped lower blood pressure by 5.4 mmHg.

  • Arterial hypertension

The main thing that a hypertensive person should understand for himself is that sudden movements, upside down postures and lifting loads are prohibited. For people with a tendency to increase pressure, respiratory complexes from 9 are ideal.0088 yoga or qigong . With the harmonization of inhalations and exhalations, the brain is saturated with oxygen, and the pressure stabilizes. Daily half-hour walks or even just walking in place is also an excellent remedy for pacifying hypertension. Swimming or water aerobics three times a week for 45 minutes – ideal for those who prefer water to walks.

  • Ischemic heart disease

This is a whole group of diseases: angina pectoris, myocardial infarction, postinfarction cardiosclerosis. Physical activity is prescribed taking into account the severity of the disease. In the first degrees of ischemia, cardiologists recommend Nordic walking . Several times a week: beginners for 20 minutes a day, experienced “walkers” – an hour and a half. In acute and severe forms of ischemia, the simplest gymnastics is shown : sitting on a chair or standing still. Or slow dancing.

  • Tachycardia, bradycardia, arrhythmia, vascular dystonia

For various violations of heart rhythms and VVD, master the techniques of Chinese gymnastics Qigong 4 . The ancients gave us invaluable experience for maintaining the heart in a healthy state. In addition, even very old people can master the basic principles of qigong!

4 Qigong “Dilution of water” and “Churning the sea”

The qigong exercise “Dilution of water” is very effective. It helps the heart work, relieves pain in the middle of the sternum, strong heartbeat and shortness of breath.

Stand straight, feet shoulder-width apart, hands down. Raise your hands in front of you to chest level, turn your palms away from you, point your little fingers up, bend your arms, forming a ring. As you inhale, take your hands back behind you at shoulder level, without changing the position of the little fingers. At the same time, try to push your chest forward. As you exhale, return the hands to the position in front of the chest. Repeat the spreading of the arms until a feeling of warmth and comfort appears in the chest area.

And another effective exercise is “Churning the Sea”. Stand straight, feet shoulder-width apart, put your hands together and raise them to chest level. Start rotating your arms, describing circles with a diameter of about 15 cm. Performing one inhalation-exhalation, describe one circle.

  • Varicose veins

Power loads are excluded.