Improving your heart health

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Submitted by Dr T on July 1, 2013 – 3:27pm

Hello. I am looking for some advice to improve my heart health.Several months ago I was afraid I was having serious cardiac issues but after several medical tests it became clear my symptoms were due to a developed anxiety disorder. However, this has still made me want to take steps to improve my heart health.A little information about me: I am a 30 year old male, am about 40 pounds overweight, and quit smoking about 6 months ago. As far as exercise, I walk a mile 3-4 days a week and do strength training (pushups, free weights, etc.) 3 days a week.I also take 81 mg aspirin and fish oil daily.With all that said, what can I do to improve my heart health? Thank you.
Hi Lee,
Heart healthy living  includes a lot more than strength training and weight lifting. Neither is walking a few miles/week an adequate exercise for a young and otherwise healthy person. 
Losing weight is difficult, and keeping it off may be even harder. In a study, published in the March 24 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, middle aged women of normal weight needed at least an hour of moderate exercise a day to prevent gaining more than five pounds over a three-year period. Overweight women with the same amount of exercise were not able to avoid gaining weight, however.
A well-rounded exercise program should include three components:
  1. Stretching – slow lengthening of the muscles. Stretching the arms and legs before and after exercising helps prepare the muscles for activity and helps prevent injury and muscle strain. Regular stretching also increases your range of motion, flexibility, and muscle function
  2. Aerobic exercise – activity that provides cardiovascular conditioning by increasing the rate and depth of your breathing, improving the body’s ability to use oxygen, raising your heart rate, and using your large muscle groups. It is known to increase endurance, decrease risk factors for certain diseases, including heart disease, and enhance a feeling of well-being. Examples of aerobic exercise include walking, cycling or swimming.
  3. Strength training – repeated muscle contractions (tightening) until the muscle becomes tired. Strength training improves strength, body mass and bone density.

If you are serious about proper diet and exercise, you should consider an aerobic exercise like running, swimming or using an elliptical machine at the gym 3-4 times/week.

Hope this helps,

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