Magazine

Listen to your heart

Your heart is in your hands: Stay heart healthy. Photo: Special Arrangement  

The main reason for a heart’s failure is not listening to it, eating unhealthily and leading an inactive or stressful lifestyle. The commonest reasons for heart disease are high cholesterol and triglycerides, high blood sugar levels or diabetes, inactive lifestyle or lack of physical exercise, excess body weight or obesity and anxiety, anger and stress. With all this pressure on it, the heart’s pumping action slowly becomes weaker. Here’s what you need to do to regain your heart health.

Regular exercise: It will help the heart stay healthy longer. Regular exercise also helps to keep arteries and other blood vessels flexible, ensuring good blood flow and normal blood pressure. Try aerobic exercises followed by strength training. This cardiovascular conditioning has a lot of benefits for the body: reduced body fat content; increased blood supply to body muscles; increased muscle mass; Reduced cholesterol and triglycerides in blood; lower resting heart rate; maximum oxygen intake in the lungs, which means increased blood supply to the heart muscle; increased glucose tolerance; reduced strain from psychological stress; reduced risk of arteriosclerosis.

Correct your diet: Make sure your food is high in fibres. Avoid items like coffee, fried foods, colas and black tea, which cause increased acidity. Avoid alcohol, which has a toxic effect on the heart. Don’t smoke and avoid second-hand smoke. Avoid red meat, spicy foods, salt, sugars or white flour.

Even patients who have suffered heart attacks and have undergone cardiac surgery need some form of exercise to lead a productive and useful life. However, in such cases, this must be under the supervision of a trained instructor and only after receiving the necessary clearances from their cardiologists. Strength training has been successfully adapted for cardiac rehabilitation patients with beneficial effects. Today, many post-surgery patients are lifting weights designed to improve overall muscle tone, improve balance, and modifications of metabolism. Body composition changes (reduced fat and increases in lean tissue), strengthening the heart muscle, and reduce blood lipids. Additional benefits include reduction in body fat and lowering of certain risk factors for subsequent cardiac problems.

Yoga asanas and pranayama have been proven to help heart patients.

Contraindications for exercise

Unstable angina (chest pain).

Increase in blood pressure (during or after exercise).

Acute illness with exercise.

Cardiac (EKG) abnormalities.

Orthopaedic problems (joint pain, reduced range of motion, muscle pain or tightness, previous surgery).

The writer is Director at GFFI Fitness Academy.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2021 6:40:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/magazine/how-to-reclaim-your-hearts-health/article6452450.ece

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