4 Fun Ways for Heart Health

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Just call it a journey to nowhere: A 3-mile walk on a treadmill is probably no one’s idea of a good time.

The truth is, many patients would rather not exercise, even though the health benefits are potentially life-changing, says cardiologist Shanker Chandiramani, MD, with Baptist Health Medical Group in Louisville and La Grange.

“They come in with eight to 10 different medicines,” he says. “I tell them that exercise probably benefits them more than any medicine they’re taking.”

If you’re one of these people, it might help to embrace activity that sneaks fun movement into your daily life.

Dr. Chandiramani and Satya Garimella, MD, a cardiologist with Baptist Health Medical Group at Floyd, offer four ideas to take the dread out of exercise.

Cut a rug.

Yes, dance. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a formal class, like Zumba with your girlfriends or ballroom dancing with your spouse, or you’re just in your living room with your kids. Simply move to music you love.

“If you do 30 minutes of dancing, you can probably lose 200 to 300 calories, and you get aerobic exercise,” Dr. Chandiramani says.

All styles of dancing will raise the heart rate and give a good workout because a dancer moves all major muscle groups. And because dancing is even more fun in pairs or groups, you can help someone you love boost his or her heart health, too.

Get wet.

Hit the pool. You can swim, walk in the shallow end or take a water aerobics class. It feels good, and it’s a healthy solution for people with joint pain and arthritis, for whom exercise on land can be painful.

Dr. Garimella encourages exercising in a warm swimming pool, where water will ease joints and relax muscles.

“When patients try it, most of them are very happy. Their joints don’t hurt. They feel better,” Dr. Garimella says. “And they’re doing something.”

Be a sport.

When you find a sport you love, exercising feels like play, not work. The key is to figure out what you find fun.

“A lot of my patients play tennis; tennis is a great exercise,” Dr. Chandiramani says. “A lot of my patients play basketball with their grandkids or kids.”

Dr. Garimella often recommends golf. “With any kind of heart disease, they should be able to play light golf, even an elderly patient.”

Sometimes people with heart disease or other health issues worry they will damage the organ with exercise. Dr. Chandiramani recommends that people talk to their doctors to determine what level and type of exercise they can safely undertake.

Socialize.

You know what makes walking laps or lifting weights fun? Doing it while gabbing with friends. Some of Dr. Garimella’s heart patients have formed exercise groups with people they met in rehabilitation programs. They plan to go to the gym together and feel like part of a “small community,” he says.

“Doing it in a group makes them enjoy it more,” he says. “They develop camaraderie and feel better.”

Take an easy health risk assessment to find out if you’re at risk of heart disease or stroke. If you’re in Southern Indiana, sign up for a free heart and stroke screening by calling 1.800.4.SOURCE.