What Is the Best Exercise for Cardiovascular Health?

What Is the Best Exercise for Cardiovascular Health?

The practice of both aerobic and anaerobic activities is directly related to reducing the risk of heart disease

What Is the Best Exercise for Cardiovascular Health?
The ideal way to improve heart health is to combine resistance and strength exercises

The physical activity is important for overall health, but above all it is if one is suffering from heart disease . Exercise can strengthen your myocardium (heart muscle) and help you stay more active. As detailed by the Spanish Heart Foundation (FEC) “it has been observed that continuous physical exercise increases the values ​​of good cholesterol (HDL) and decreases the plasma levels of triglycerides”. 

Many hours are spent at work, sitting and even with poor body posture. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “a sedentary lifestyle is one of the main causes of suffering from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes or obesity” and, for this reason, it is convenient to perform both aerobic exercise (walking, swimming, running, riding cycling) and anaerobic (brief force-based efforts such as weight lifting). WHO recommends doing at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity.

Direct effects of physical activity on the cardiovascular system

• Decreases the heart rate at rest
• Increases the amount of blood that the heart expels in each beat
• Stimulates circulation within the heart muscle itself
• Increases circulation in all muscles
• Prevents the formation of clots within the arteries and, as consequently, heart attacks or stroke may occur

Of course, it is important that each person knows how to regulate the rhythm and know their limits . If the exercise that is being carried out demands too much effort on the heart and symptoms such as vertigo or dizziness, chest pain, pulse or irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing or nausea appear, the activity that is being carried out should be suspended and rest.

There is debate about which is the best exercise for the heart. Aerobic exercise has always been chosen, but recent studies also highlight the benefits of resistance exercise for improving heart health .

Are weight training effective for cardiovascular health?

Walking, running, cycling … are usually the most recommended sports to avoid heart problems , but it has also been shown that anaerobic activities such as weight lifting are also associated with reduced risks of heart disease.

In this sense, a study carried out by researchers from St. George’s University analyzed, in 4,086 American adults, the key risk factors related to having a heart attack , such as high blood pressure, being overweight, diabetes or high cholesterol levels, depending on the physical activity (static or dynamic) they practiced. In addition, they were divided by age into two groups: from 21 to 44 years old and over 45 and a series of exercise routine based on walking and cycling or doing weights was applied to them. 

In total, 36% of young adults and 25% of adults performed anaerobic weight training, while the remaining percentage performed aerobics. Thus, the researchers discovered that participating in both exercises was directly related to the reduction of risk factors for cardiovascular disease between 30 and 70%, but decreased more in the case of those who carried out static training and in the youngest.

Combine resistance and strength exercises

The study suggests that both strength training and aerobic activity are heart healthy , even in small amounts. However, based on this research, anaerobic exercises were shown to be more beneficial . The ideal, according to the WHO, is to complement aerobic exercise with two days of muscle strengthening.