A heart-healthy workout routine for all ages

Are you doing all you can to take care of your ticker? Cardiovascular health is a topic that should be near and dear to everyone’s heart. And yet, many of us forget to focus on keeping this life-sustaining muscle fit. Simple habits like exercising regularly, limiting sodium consumption and managing stress levels help to power and protect our heart.

Exercise is the elixir to lowering, controlling and even eliminating heart-related conditions. However, like any medication, it only works well when done consistently and correctly. Since physical activity increases pressure on the heart, it is important for those with hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, those who have had a heart attack, stroke, are overweight or have recently quit smoking, to practice caution by consulting your physician prior to starting a new routine.

The following heart healthy homework helps to improve overall cardiovascular health. When performing these movements, choose lighter weights to avoid straining and don’t hold your breath, as these simple slip ups can cause blood pressure to spike.

How it works: for best results, repeat this circuit three times, two-to-three days each week. On off days or in addition to this routine, try to incorporate at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise. Here are some options to fulfill this goal:

  • Walking or jogging

  • Cycling

  • Engaging in sports like tennis, soccer, basketball or pickleball

  • Swimming

  • Dance

  • Exercise-like errands such as Swiffering, shoveling snow or mowing the lawn

Warm-up: 30 second stationary march

Take a stand (light weights optional)

  • Sit on a stable seat or bench with your feet positioned shoulder width apart and arms extended in front of the body.

  • Keep your shoulders back and gaze forward as you push through the heels, elevating your body into an upright stance. Squeeze your glutes tight for two counts then lower your body back down to the chair. Avoid using your upper body for momentum or pushing off with your arms. This is a lower body exercise. Repeat 10 times.

Step it up

  • Using a sturdy step or bench, place the right foot at the center of the surface.

  • Push through the right heel to elevate the body and simultaneously swing the left leg up, driving the left knee toward the torso. This will engage your abs.

  • Hold for two counts then lower the left leg to the starting stance. Keep the right foot on the bench for 10 repetitions then switch sides.

A Loaded Lunge

  • Begin by standing with feet hip width apart.

  • Take a large lateral step with the right leg and push back at the hips to lower into a lunge. Check that your feet are parallel and toes are forward facing. Keep your chest up and gaze forward.

  • Push through the right heel and swing your right leg diagonally behind the body so your bodyweight is now resting on your front left heel. Lower the body so the front thigh is parallel with the floor. Hold for two counts. Continue repeating this see-saw sequence for 10 repetitions then switch legs. Once comfortable and confident with this exercise you can incorporate a light free weight for an added challenge.

The way to a man or woman’s heart is through healthy habits.

This article was originally posted on Philly.com