Cardio for your cardio health

By: Alison Dunn Feb 18, 2011

If you want a healthy ticker, get your heart pumping with some of these great activities.

You’ve heard it a million times: exercise is good for your heart. And while the saying might sound trite, it’s absolutely true. To keep your heart (not to mention the rest of your body) healthy, you need to exercise.

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, people aged 18 and older need 30-60 minutes of activity, most days of the week, to reap the most benefits of exercise. If you’re doing a milder form of exercise (like gardening, walking or tai chi), you should probably spend at least 60 minutes or so on that activity.

But if you want to move to more moderate or high-intensity cardiovascular exercise, first start by getting the go-ahead from your doctor. Next, start thinking about what kind of exercise you’d like to do – and which ones will do the most good for your heart.

Good cardiovascular exercises can strengthen the heart by elevating your heart rate and getting your blood pumping. It can be anything from swimming to running to vigorous weight lifting – if your heart rate is elevated, you’re working out your heart muscle right along with your other muscles.

Want to try some heart-pumping activities yourself? Here are a few great ones:

Moderate intensity

  • Water aerobics
  • Riding a bike
  • Briskly walking
  • Downhill skiing
  • Swimming
  • Dancing
  • Hatha yoga
  • Pilates

High intensity

  • Running
  • Spinning class
  • Fast-paced swimming
  • Boot camp
  • Crossfit training
  • Hockey
  • Soccer
  • Basketball
  • Power walking
  • Vigorous weight training

The key is to find activities you’ll actually enjoy doing and can keep up with in the long-term. And don’t feel like you have to do vigorous cardio activities every day. Do a high-intensity cardio workout two to three times a week, and switch it up with more moderate or gentle activities on your off days.

A journalist with more than 10 years experience, Alison’s work has appeared in a number of top Canadian publications, including glow, Oxygen, Canadian Running and more. She is the former editor of a number of well-respected Canadian and American trade journals and recipient of a Kenneth R. Wilson Gold Award of Excellence in feature article writing. She is a part-time faculty member at Sheridan College’s journalism department, as well as an avid runner and fitness enthusiast.