Fitness Tips

Why a Cardiologist Says Every Fitness Regimen Should Include the ‘Big 3’

Photo: Getty Images/Cavan Images
In 2021, there are at least 2,021 ways to break a sweat. Whether you're lacing up your roller skates, hula-hooping to put your core to work, or just going out for a simple walk, moving your body comes with serious psychological and physical benefits. But when it comes to best workouts for heart health, Michael Weinrauch, MD, a New Jersey-based cardiologist, says three types of fitness take the cake.

"I want to stress that even a small amount of regular exercise is beneficial, such as walking. That said, the more you can round out your workout, the better," says Dr. Weinrauch. If you do have a few extra hours to work out each week, Dr. Weinrauch recommends the trifecta of ticker-friendly workouts. Namely, aerobic activity, strength training, and mobility and flexibility. Keep reading to hear more about why.

The 3 best workouts for heart health, according to a cardiologist

1. Aerobic activity

"For heart health, the goal is to get you breathing harder, and your heart beating faster, otherwise known as aerobic activity," says Dr. Weinrauch. "Combining moderate and vigorous intensities of physical activity is the best way to achieve this. Think: walking with running and jogging." Apart from strengthening your heart and lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease, aerobic activity has also been found to help improve cognitive function, activate your immune system, and improve your mood. All the good stuff.

Try this quick treadmill workout to get in your aerobic exercise for the day:

2. Strength training

The U.S. government guidelines state that all adults should be performing strength training exercises for all major muscle groups at least two days a week. Dr. Weinrauch says that this is particularly important for older adults because strength training can increase bone density and help decrease your chances of falling. "When sustained over several years, resistance training leads to an increase in lean muscle mass and a decrease in age-related fat deposition. It has also been shown to lower blood pressure," adds Dr. Weinrauch. Whether you opt for bodyweight exercises or throw in a pair of dumbbells, all these benefits make strength training a worthy addition to your weekly rotation.

Check off your strength training with this quick, full-body session:

3. Flexibility and mobility

You knew this was coming. According to Dr. Weinrauch, flexibility and mobility are vital for heart health. (Note: Flexibility refers to the muscles ability to stretch while mobility refers to whether or not a joint can reach its full range of motion.) "Stretching, flexibility, and balance exercises likely have no direct benefit on cardiovascular health, but they help prevent injuries in runners and help prevent falls and maintain mobility in older individuals," adds Dr. Weinrauch. In other words, flexibility and mobility allow you to keep doing all the other things you love (and relax your nervous system in the process).

Stretch it out with this quick, relaxing yoga class: 

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