Three Easy Heart-Healthy Exercises Endorsed by Cardiologists

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Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States. That means prioritizing heart health is more crucial than ever. Thanks to the insights of cardiologists, recent research, and the American Health Association (AHA), we now have a clearer understanding of how to reduce the risk of heart disease.

It’s obvious that giving up smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can benefit your health. But reducing your risk also involves making incremental improvements in other areas of your life, like incorporating regular exercise and ensuring adequate sleep. 

Exercise offers numerous benefits for heart health. These benefits include strengthening the heart and increasing your capacity for physical activity. It also reduces blood pressure and cholesterol levels, both of which are critical factors in maintaining cardiovascular health. 

Aerobic Workouts

Aerobic Exercise

A strong heart is best achieved through cardiovascular exercise. Just as we use dumbbells to develop our skeletal muscles, aerobic activities help us strengthen our hearts. Cardiovascular exercise, or “cardio,” involves any activity that raises our heart rate for a sustained duration.

The objective for each person is to accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise weekly, with a focus on variety. According to the American Heart Association, this weekly exercise target can significantly improve cardiovascular health.

Aerobic exercise examples include brisk walking, cycling, and swimming. These aerobic workouts strengthen your heart muscles, lower resting pulse, and reduce blood fat levels. 

  • Start by doing five to 10 minutes each day.
  • Listen to how your body feels the next day before doing more. 
  • Remember to warm up before exercise and cool down afterwards, especially if you have angina
  • Another thing to consider is monitoring your heart rate during these exercises using an affordable sport band.

Strength Training

Strength Training

Besides cardio or aerobic routines such as brisk walking, cycling, swimming, and high-intensity interval training, there’s another type of exercise that offers heart health benefits: strength training.

The ideal training plan is influenced by numerous factors, such as personal goals, genetics, and lifestyle. As epidemiologist Eric J. Shiroma points out, “Strength training is highly individualized.”

Nevertheless, even a minimalistic approach to strength training can yield significant long-term health benefits. Drawing from the study co-authored by Shiroma, he advises, “Any amount of strength training is better than none, and incorporating more than just treadmill workouts is important.”



Stretching not only increases flexibility and reduces stiffness in the body, but it also benefits your blood vessels. A study from the University of Milan revealed that a 12-week stretching program improved blood flow, reduced blood pressure, and decreased arterial stiffness. Good blood flow minimizes damage to artery walls, potentially lowering the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Stiff arteries are often associated with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and inflammation.

The study involved nearly 40 participants divided into three groups with various stretching portions. After 12 weeks, the stretching groups showed significant improvements in blood vessel health, with less arterial stiffness and better blood vessel function.

Here are three beginner-friendly stretches recommended by the American Council on Exercise:

  1. Standing Hip Flexor Stretch
  • Step forward with your left foot, keeping your right foot stationary.
  • Slightly bend your back knee, allowing your tailbone to move closer to the floor.
  • Maintain a neutral spine without arching or rounding your back.
  • Hold, then switch sides.
  1. Seated Head-Toward-Knee Stretch
  • Sit with your right leg extended in front of you and your left leg bent, placing your left foot next to your right thigh.
  • Gently fold your upper body forward over your right leg.
  • Hold, then switch sides.
  1. Reclining Figure Four Stretch
  • Lie on your back with both knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Cross your right foot over your left thigh and gently pull your left thigh towards you.
  • Allow gravity to draw your legs closer to your body to deepen the stretch.
  • Hold, then switch sides.

Does Exercise Reverse Health Damage?

The answer to that is YES! A study in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation shows that starting exercise in middle age can help reverse heart damage caused by prolonged sitting. Researchers divided 52 sedentary middle-aged adults into two groups: one engaged in moderate- and high-intensity exercises, while the other participated in balance and flexibility training. Over two years, the first group experienced increased VO2 max and decreased heart muscle stiffness, changes not observed in the second group. 

The bottom line, prioritizing heart health is essential in combating cardiovascular disease. By incorporating these three easy, cardiologist-endorsed exercises such as aerobic workouts, strength training, and stretching into your daily routine, you can significantly improve your cardiovascular health and overall well-being