Feb 24, 2021 4 Simple Moves for a Healthy Heart

Newark Beth Israel Medical Center says heart-pumping exercise can help you recover from a heart problem — or help prevent one from happening.

“Keep moving.” That’s the simple message for people who want to maintain or improve their heart health, says Andre Wise, senior exercise physiologist and Manager of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in the Cardiac Rehabilitation Department at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center (NBI).

“People take that ability — to move without effort — for granted,” he says, “but that’s what we all want to be able to do. Repetitive exercises increase heart rate and strength. They will give you the ability to sustain activity for a lifetime.”

Cardiac rehabilitation is not only instrumental in improving recovery of patients who suffer from cardiovascular disease, but also in enhancing the ability to perform daily activities and improving quality of life.

Heart-healthy exercise means getting in 30 to 45 minutes of aerobic training at moderate intensity several times a week.

“For beginners, go to your tolerance,” Wise says. “Fifteen to 20 minutes is a great start. With moderate intensity exercise, you want to elevate your breathing but still be able to hold a conversation. You will develop a light sweat after about 10 minutes, but will not feel exhausted.”

Wise cites a recent experience with a heart-transplant patient he worked with 13 years ago.

“This person said to me, ‘You picked me up out of bed and made me walk. You don’t know how much you’ve changed my life. If it weren’t for you, I would not be doing as well as I am now.’ But that’s exactly why we’re here,” says Wise. “We’re here to make sure our patients are able to live the life they want to live.”

Start with a Stretch

Heart healthy exercise - stretchingFive-minute core stretch!

This kind of exercise encompasses the lower extremities, back and upper body increases blood flow and temperature to muscle tissue, which helps to prevent injury.

Stretches should be static, Wise advises.

Stretch to farthest point and hold that position for 15 to 30 seconds; don’t pull or pulse the muscle.

Walk or Run

At the gym:

Time on a treadmill is good for the cardiovascular system and strengthens the heart. For a more vigorous workout, try a stair-stepper.

At home:

Heart-Healthy Exercise - Walk or Run

When weather permits, walk around the neighborhood at a pace that elevates your heart above its resting rate. Try bouncing a ball as you walk; this improves coordination, takes the focus off walking and gives the activity a sportlike feel. If you can’t get outside, walk the perimeter of your largest room. Walk up and down the steps for one to three minutes, a few times a day.

Add Weight

At the gym:

Use a medicine ball. Raise it above your head 10 times, or push the ball out directly in front of you. To improve posture and balance, hold the ball in a fixed position and raise one knee at a time, or squat while holding the ball.

Heart Healthy Exercise - Add Weight
At home:

Improvise with a soccer ball, basketball or kickball, or grab a bottle of water or a canned good.

Jump In!

At the gym:

Walk or jog in place on a trampoline for a couple of minutes. This exercise challenges the cardiovascular system and the muscles that help stabilize you while placing minimal stress on the joints.

At home:

Try jumping rope. If that’s not for you, modify by taking a rope or broomstick and moving it back and forth like a wheel while alternately raising legs to simulate jumping, or do the same activity from a sitting position and raise both legs at the same time.

Heart-Healthy Exercise - Jumping

Don’t delay getting the care you need. Your heart doesn’t beat just for you. Get it checked. To reach a Newark Beth Israel Medical Center cardiac specialist, call (888) 724-7123 or request an appointment.