Just like any other muscle in your body, your heart becomes stronger with use. The more you exercise within your target heart rate, the more easily your heart will pump blood, helping you stay healthy for life.
The Mayo Clinic recommends 45 to 60 minutes of exercise per day, with strength training two to three times a week for a healthy heart. Talk with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program or if you have been sedentary for a long time.
Doctors say it is safest and most beneficial to exercise in your target heart rate, which is normally 60 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. In this zone you are burning calories and strengthening your heart: working smarter, not harder.
Find your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. Multiply the result by 0.6 to find the lower limit of your target heart rate. Then multiply that result by 0.8 to find the upper limit of your target heart rate. You should be breathing hard but still be able to carry on a conversation.
Here's a look at some ways to give your heart a healthy workout this summer:
Be a SportEnjoy long summer days by playing team sports including baseball or softball, rowing, basketball, volleyball or soccer. Ride your bicycle along the shore, take a sunrise hike or bounce tennis balls against a wall on a summer evening
Get ClassyAttend group fitness classes such as Jazzercise for camaraderie, accountability and fun.
Get to the Bottom of ThingsYour quadriceps (thighs) and gluteus maximus (bottom area) are some of largest muscles in your body. When you use them, you give your heart a great workout in a short period of time. Do a variety of lunges or squats—or both. You can do them in small spaces: your office, a hotel room or while cooking dinner.
In 15 minutes, your heart rate will have increased and you'll be toning up at the same time.
Get WetSummer is a perfect time to get wet while working your heart muscle. Swim laps in a lake, pool or even the ocean, provided a lifeguard is nearby. In addition to working your heart, some say that swimming works all the muscles in your body, and it's refreshing during a warm summer.
Get a Jump on ItJumping rope is one of the quickest ways to get your heart rate up. Start gradually, jumping only five minutes per session, gradually increasing your time as your heart becomes stronger. Jumping rope is excellent for toning your legs, too.
Remember to stretch your body before and after working out. Keep moving all summer and you'll be on your way to a healthier heart.
Stay fit in a fitness class.
Judi Sheppard Missett, who turned her love of jazz dance into a worldwide dance exercise phenomenon, founded the Jazzercise dance fitness program in 1969. The workout program, which offers a fusion of jazz dance, resistance training, Pilates, yoga and cardio box movements, has positively affected millions of people. Benefits include increased cardiovascular endurance, strength and flexibility, as well as an overall "feel good" factor. For more information go to jazzercise.com or call (800) FIT-IS-IT.