This Is The Ultimate Elixir For Heart Disease, Says An MD
Tending to your heart health on a daily basis is an oft-overlooked habit. To be fair, your heart health is one of those things that you may easily neglect until, well, you can't anymore. However, preventive care doesn't have to be complicated.
Why exercise is the ultimate elixir for heart disease
According to Attia, exercise's benefits for the heart are simply undeniable—just like how eating vegetables is good for you or how smoking increases your risk of lung cancer. It's pretty much indisputable!
"Similarly, if you look at all of the metrics that are associated with longevity, there are none that even come within the same ZIP code as having a very high cardiorespiratory fitness," he says.
Research echoes this statement, showing that participants who took part in 150 to 300 minutes per week of moderate physical activity and 75 to 150 minutes per week of vigorous physical activity are more likely to live longer, compared to those who don't. Another study shows frequent exercise promotes cardiovascular health1 by lowering blood pressure, increasing insulin sensitivity, and creating a favorable plasma lipoprotein profile.
And yet another study showed that one or two weekly sessions of moderate- or vigorous-intensity leisure/recreational activity were all that was necessary to reduce the risk of dying2 from cardiovascular disease (40%), cancer (18%), or something else (30%) compared with inactive individuals. We could go on and on; the link between exercise and longevity is well documented.
Attia's exercise tips
Most people would assume that heart-healthy exercise consists of tons of cardio. According to Attia, that's certainly not the only thing you should focus on. Below, some of his best exercise tips:
Strength training isn't just about lifting the heaviest weights in the gym; it's also about prepping your body for the long haul.
"I think of strength training as a form of retirement saving. Just as we want to retire with enough money saved up to sustain us for the rest of our lives, we want to reach older age with enough of a 'reserve' of muscle (and bone density) to protect us from injury and allow us to continue to pursue the activities that we enjoy," Attia previously told mbg.
So before you spend all of your time on the treadmill, consider adding some strength training activities into your routine—here's our full guide to strength training for some inspiration.
Another underrated focus: grip strength. "How hard you can grip with your hands, which involves everything from your hands to your lats (the large muscles on your back)," Attia says.
Attia recommends incorporating hip-hinging movements, such as the dead lift and squat, but also step-ups, hip-thrusters, and countless single-leg variants of exercises that strengthen the legs, glutes, and lower back.
Tending to your heart health doesn't have to be complicated. In fact, it can be as simple as exercising more often and shaking up your normal cardio routine to incorporate more strength training. Then if you really want to elevate your cardiovascular health, consider adding more heart-healthy foods to the list or investing in heart supplements for added benefits. Great news! We have a list of our favorites here.
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty & Health Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including skin care, women’s health, mental health, sustainability, social media trends, and more. She previously interned for Almost 30, a top-rated health and wellness podcast. In her current role, Hannah reports on the latest beauty trends and innovations, women’s health research, brain health news, and plenty more.