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Heart Starter – Walk, Jog, Jump for your Heart

The heart is an organ made of special muscles, which contract to pump less oxygenated blood (dark red) to the lungs, and oxygenated blood (bright red) to the body through blood vessels called arteries. The blood returns to the heart via blood vessels called veins.

Heart requires the muscles to contract in a co-ordinated way to create the pump. This co-ordination is organised by electrical system in the heart, and pacemaker cells. If the rhythm is not co-ordinated it is called arrhythmia, and if severe (called fibrillation) it can lead to failure of the heart to pump enough blood to the brain & body.

The heart needs a good blood supply to keep pumping, and if the heart arteries become blocked from heart disease or blood vessel spasm, this can lead to heart pain (felt often in the chest, shoulder or arm) called angina and if severe it can lead to heart muscle death or damage to the pace maker system, leading to heart attack. This can be a life threatening emergency. 

First aid is essential – check for dangers, ring for ambulance, apply CPR if not responsive & not breathing, apply defibrillation if available & get to hospital ASAP.

The heart is connected to the brain, especially via the large vagus nerve, helping it to adjust to activity & emotional needs. The heart also communicates back to the brain in a major way.

There are a number of things you can do to keep your heart healthy. In this movement section we are going to talk about the importance of activity & keeping moving. 

MOVING aids heart health, while being SEDENTARY can damage heart health.

(Unless you have a special medical reason):Move more and sit less…
The simplest activity most of us can do is WALK – try to walk for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week (or put together 2.5 to 5 hours per week)

For more fitness you may like to try JOGGING or RUNNING – this more vigorous activity you should try for 1.25 to 2.5 hours per week.

For the very fit & for more get up go you may like to try JUMPING – this really gets your heart pumping! You can do interval training including jumping, with short periods of intense exercise with rest between, to get your breath back. This may be for 20 or 30 seconds with rest periods of 2 to 3 minutes. You could repeat 3 to 5 times. Always warm up slowly before doing high intensity interval exercise. Jumping is also good for bone health; however, you need to be aware it can be more risky, leading to musculoskeletal injuries, especially if you have joint issues. It can also take longer to recover from high intensity exercise so you may start with only once per week.

You can also do combinations of each.

An alternative way to move is through YOGA – Dr Dean Ornish found that you could reverse heart disease through yoga lifestyle. Try this simple Happy Heart yoga practice based on the Cardiac Yoga Program – Click Here

CARE If you have a heart issue (or other medical or musculoskeletal issue), it is best to always seek guidance from your health professional about what movement & exercise is safe for you. This is especially important for more vigorous exercise like running or jumping.

References:
Physical activity guidelines for Australia 

ACMS guidelines on HIIT 

• The Dean Ornish Program –  https://www.ornish.com