How to Avoid Heart Strain While Exercising

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Exercise is good for your heart health, and can help in the fight to lower your blood pressure and keep your heart fit and healthy. If you’re already exercising regularly, or planning to start sometime soon, you’ll need to know the optimum heart rate for your age and fitness level, what the dangerous exercise levels are, and how to avoid over-exerting yourself and straining your heart.

Physical exercise detoxes the arteries!

Physical exertion can actually act like a detox for the arteries, helping to prevent the accumulation of the fatty plaques that can lead to atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, and coronary heart disease.

Before starting or increasing any program of physical exercise, be sure to consult with your doctor!

However, most people in the United Kingdom and the United States spend a greater proportion of their lives than ever before, either sitting down or doing things that involve little or no physical activity. A recent British survey discovered that the average person now walks a half mile per day, down from nearly three quarters of a mile in 1976. As this is an average, it is likely that some people will walk much longer distances than this whilst others will walk very little at all.

Check out your safe maximum heart rate

There’s never been a better time than now to start doing some extra physical activity. You can find our top ten ‘easy win’ tips to increase your physical activity each day  listed below. If you get into the habit of adopting these handy exercise tips, you will eventually hardly notice them, maybe save yourself some money, and do your heart health some good as well.


Before you start though, be sure to check what your maximum recommended pulse rate should be for your age group, and don’t forget – always consult your doctor before starting any fitness program. The following table lists the recommended maximum exercise pulse rates for all age ranges and fitness levels:

Age (years) Danger pulse Fit max pulse Unfit max pulse
20 200 160 120
30 190 152 114
40 180 144 108
50 170 136 102
60 160 128 96
70 150 120 90
80 140 112 84

Top ten tips for easy exercise and big heart health gains :-

  • Wash your car yourself instead of using the car wash (save some dollars during the credit crunch!)
  • Cut the grass or do an hours worth of gardening
  • Do an hours work around the house – cleaning, polishing or DIY – why pay to join a gym ?
  • Climb the stairs at the office instead of taking the elevator (if you’re at home take a few extra stair climbs each day)
  • Park your car at the end of the lot when you go shopping or to work
  • Go food shopping, carry your groceries, and cook a meal instead of ordering a pizza delivery
  • Pace up and down the room when you’re talking on the phone
  • Take advantage of TV commercial breaks to do some chores around the home
  • Get up at least once per hour and walk around your home or office
  • Don’t send an email – get up and walk to see the person or friend at the other side of the office, or neighbourhood

Exercise and Heart Disease

According to the World Health Organisation physical inactivity causes 2 million deaths worldwide each year, and is a major risk factor in many dread diseases. You can see a warning symbol further down this article, but maybe there should also be one right here, warning of the dangers of inactivity, because a quarter of all deaths each year are linked to sedentary living.

In a recent British fitness survey of 3000 people, more than half of the people who were questioned reported spending most of their working day sitting down and inactive. Another survey – the National Travel Survey showed that the average distance walked per year year fell from 255 miles in 1975 to just 186 miles by the year 2000. This is largely due to the way in which modern living has almost engineered physical activity out of our daily lives.

Why is exercise and physical activity good for heart health?

In a nutshell, exercise can help to prevent heart disease, and reduce the heart attack statistics. Exercise can also lower blood pressure and other risk factors for coronary heart disease. Exercise is also beneficial for recovering heart patients.

Combined with a good heart diet, regular physical activity can also be effective in helping to prevent a range of other diseases and conditions, including :-

  • stroke
  • bowel cancer
  • breast cancer
  • osteoporosis
  • obesity

There are also supplementary benefits associated with increased levels of fitness and physical activity – most people report feeling less stressed by the daily pressures of life, and overall better well-being. Regular exercise is also believed to ease the symptoms of anxiety, and mild depression.

Getting started with exercise

The good news is that it is never too late to start doing some extra physical activity to improve your health, no matter how old or unfit you currently are.

By reading this article, you are probably already realising the potential benefits and are serious about improving your risk factors for heart disease.

   However, you must see a doctor if your have not been regularly exercising over the years, to ensure that your body is capable of withstanding the additional heart exercise. This also applies if you have a concern about an existing medical condition.

How much exercise does it take to tackle heart disease causes?

According to the British Heart Foundation the minimum recommended ‘dose’ of exercise required to gain benefits to your health is 30 minutes per day, and at least five days per week. It is not necessary to do this in one contiguous 30 minute block, but may be spread out across the day and with different activities contributing to the daily total. If you manage to achieve 30 minutes per day, you should then try to increase the amount to 40-60 minutes on most days if possible, especially if you are also involved in a weight loss program.

What type of exercise should I do?

The main reason for exercising is to increase the normal heart rate, and so virtually any activity that makes your heart beat faster is probably acceptable.

 You should be able to tell as your heart rate increases, as this will make you feel warmer, increase your breathing and possibly make you feel out of breath. So all of the following activities (and many more not listed here) are recommended :-

  • cycling
  • swimming
  • brisk walking
  • jogging
  • dancing
  • skipping

By the end of the activity you should feel the glow of the increased blood circulation around your body, and also feel a mild sweat from the exertion.

Regular Activities can also substitute for exercise

There are many daily jobs and chores which have been automated or replaced by modern machinery and living. It is possible to re-engineer just a small part of your normal routine to pay big health dividends. You can even use normal household activities to good effect. For example, fairly heavy housework, gardening, or washing the car by hand can all increase your breathing and metabolism, and count towards your 30 minutes of ‘sweat time’ per day. You could also consider taking a brisk walk to work, or to the shops, instead of using mechanised transport. The activity does not have to be intense, however there is some evidence that heart disease prevention may depend on a higher degree of activity.

Can exercise be harmful?

There is a common misbelief that physical activity may be bad for, or strain the heart. However this is not true even for heart disease patients! physical activity is good for most people with heart disease. However, If you are unfit, or suffering from a heart related condition it is best to seek the advice of a physician and to very gently build up your exercise level.