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Guide to Exercise for a Healthy Heart

exercise-for-a-healthy-heartJust 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.

Here’s a look at some ways to give your heart a healthy workout this summer:

# Be a Sport

Enjoy 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 Classy

Attend group fitness classes such as Jazzercise for camaraderie, accountability and fun.

# Get to the Bottom of Things

Your 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 a Jump on It

Jumping 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.

# Get Wet

Summer 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.

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.