Cardio to keep your heart healthy

As September marks World Heart Awareness month, Virgin Active aims to highlight the importance of a healthy heart and National Group Exercise Manager Ceri Hannan says eating a healthy balanced diet and participating in regular exercise plays a big role in ensuring a strong heart. 

Research by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa has found that 7.1 million people around the world die of cardiovascular disease annually- with around 37 heart failures in South Africa daily.

Hannan says for this reason it is of utmost importance to prevent the onset of cardiovascular diseases such as strokes and heart attacks by being active. 

The benefits of cardio exercise

"Cardio exercise raises your heart rate and keeps it elevated for a period of time. It involves the large muscle groups such as the legs and has many benefits which include strengthening your heart and lungs, and aids in decreasing your blood pressure.”

Hannan says people wanting to start exercising who already suffering from a heart condition should consult their doctor first before embarking on a training programme.

“It is important to establish how much you can do before you exert yourself and do even more damage. However, once you have supplied us with this information, one of our qualified biokineticists will assist you in working out an exercise programme and a healthy balanced diet.” 

Hannan says the following exercises are highly recommended for those who would like to strengthen their hearts and prevent the onset of the dreaded disease:

Running is one of the best and easiest forms of exercise you can do as this does not require any special equipment, except for proper running shoes. This can also be done any where and anytime and at the pace of the individual. 

Whether you are cycling indoors or outdoors, cycling is a great cardio work out. You will increase endurance while burning lots of calories, anywhere from between 250 – 500 in half an hour depending on how fast you go. 

Elliptical training
Using an elliptical trainer is a good way to build endurance while protecting aching joints from high impact activities especially it if has arms attached. This is also a great choice for runners looking for a break from the usual pavement running. 

Swimming is a full body exercise in which most of the larger muscles are utilised. By swimming, all your joints are supported do you don’t have to worry about sustaining any high impact injuries. 

Walking just like running is an effortless but good exercise. If you working out on a treadmill and select the hills option it increases your work out intensity. Just remember to walk briskly, keep your head up back straight and swing your arms.

Source: Virgin Active. Visit or call 0860 900 211.

(Health24, September 2011)

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