Exercise For Heart

Q. I am planning for physical exercise.  What type of exercise is best for my heart?

A. Physical exercise can be roughly divided in to three types: The aerobic exercises, isometric or power exercises and relaxation exercises.  The first priority is obviously the aerobic exercise.  In this form of physical exercise the air (oxygen) requirement of our body increases by several folds.  The oxygen requirement of our body at rest is expressed by the unit of 1 MET.  An adult with normal heart and lung can increase the oxygen requirement by increasing the severity of exercise by 10-12 folds (10-12 METs). By forcing your heart and lung to work faster for a certain length of time, you can increase their efficiency as well as maintain their health.


Q. What are aerobic exercises?

These are the type of physical exercise where the subject does repetitive, rhythmic and non-stop bodily movements for a length of time (say 30-60 min).  There will be sweating and some shortness of breath.  The heart rate (pulse rate) and blood pressure goes up. A person can raise his or her pulse rate with increasing severity of exercise up to a maximum limit.  This limit is lower for older person as compared to younger person.  One can calculate the maximum achievable heart rate by subtracting his or her age from a constant factor of 220. But you can’t continue physical exercise at the peak of your physical endurance or at the level of exercise which causes maximum heart rate for your age.  Ideally you should perform “60% of your maximum physical endurance” activity, which will raise your heart rate up to 60% of your maximum heart rate of your age for 45-60 min to get the optimum benefit. With that level of exercise, you will be able to continue conversation with short (4-6 word) length sentences with little shortness of breath.  You will start sweating after 5 min at that level of exercise. This is the only form of exercise, proven to of definite health benefits. It burns calorie, hence you loose weight.  Your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol go down to healthy levels.  You can feel comfortable for activities requiring physical endurance.  Once you stop exercise, the achieved gain goes down to pre-exercise status in 1 week’s time.  So you should not take exercise holiday for not more than 2 days a week.


Q. What are examples of aerobic exercises?

Brisk walk for 3-6 km @ 4-6 km/h, Swimming for 30-40 min, Jogging for 30-45 min, skipping for 20-30 min, Dancing for 30-45 min, playing outdoor games like badminton, tennis, football, walking on a treadmill @ 4-6 km/h for 30-60 min at least 5 days a week are good examples of aerobic exercises for people without heart disease.  If you have problem with knee, you can try swimming or slow walk wearing a well-fit sport shoe.


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