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The Best Exercises for Cardiovascular Health

Feb 11, 2024

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The Best Exercises for Cardiovascular Health

Published by Claudia Giunta. 

As we embrace American Heart Health Month, there’s no better time to reflect on and prioritize our cardiovascular well-being. Cardiovascular training is a mainstay of musculoskeletal fitness, along with strength and flexibility exercises. Additionally, cardiovascular fitness supports your body’s ability to consume and convert oxygen into energy. 

Strengthening your heart is one of the best things you can do for your health, as it is the main organ of the cardiovascular system. The best way to strengthen your heart is through exercise. You are more likely to develop heart disease if you do not exercise regularly. 

The healthier your heart is, the easier it will be to perform normal, daily tasks and move throughout your day. Climbing stairs, gardening, and walking around your neighborhood will become easier when your heart health is at its best. If it’s been a while since your heart rate was pumping due to physical exercise, start slowly with moderate-intensity exercise and work your way up to higher-intensity activities. If you have a heart disease or worry you may be at risk of developing one, talk to your doctor before engaging in intense physical activity. 

Nova Vita Solutions

Nova Vita’s healthcare professionals can help you improve your heart health. Our comprehensive lab panels will measure a complete blood cell count, metabolic panel, and lipid panel, all of which are essential to heart health. We’ll help interpret your results and develop a health plan based on your needs and health concerns. Our personalized medical weight loss programs are tailored to each individual and can help lower your risk of diabetes and other forms of heart disease. Additionally, our 3D Body Scanner provides precise body composition measurements on target areas and your calculated risk of developing cardiovascular disease based on your body composition. Based on your results, we will determine how much physical activity you need to help you maintain a heart-healthy life. Book an appointment online today and explore how Nova Vita can help you live a heart-healthy lifestyle.

Ideal Heart Rate

To calculate your target heart rate, use the following formula:

  1. Determine your maximum heart rate: 220 minus your age (For example, a 50-year-old would subtract 50 from 220 and determine that their maximum heart rate is 170 beats per minute (bpm).
  2. Determine your target heart rate for moderate exercise: 50%-70% of your maximum heart (a 50-year-old’s target heart rate would be 85-119 bpm).
  3. Determine your target heart rate for vigorous activity: 70%-80% of your maximum heart rate (a 50-year-old’s target heart rate would be 119-145 bpm). 

Boost Your Cardiovascular Health

At Nova Vita, we are committed to empowering individuals to take control of their whole body health through informed lifestyle choices and a comprehensive approach to wellness. In terms of heart health, incorporating heart-healthy foods into your diet is essential, however, engaging in regular heart-conscious exercises is equally important in maintaining and improving your cardiovascular fitness. The following exercises and tips are ways to strengthen your heart. 

Brisk Walking

While it might sound easy, brisk walking is a great way to strengthen your heart. Walking fast will increase your heart rate, improve circulation, and is easier on your joints than other forms of exercise. Other benefits of walking include improved cholesterol, blood pressure, and energy levels

You can walk anywhere at any time and walking is an easy form of exercise that allows you to multitask. While walking you can take a work call, spend time with a friend, listen to the news, a podcast, or music. The flexibility of walking makes it an easy exercise for anyone– no matter where they are on their health journey. Whether you’re taking a stroll, going for a rigorous hike, or going for a quick walk around the neighborhood with your dog, your heart will thank you.  

Strength Training

After engaging in low-impact exercise for a few weeks, you’ll notice it’s challenging to get your heart rate up. This is a good sign and indicates that you are getting fitter and are ready for more intense workouts. Building the other muscles in your body through weight and strength training will help your heart. Weight training will build muscle mass, improve your joint function, and burn fat. By increasing lean muscle mass, you can improve your metabolism and maintain a healthy weight, both of which help reduce the risk of heart disease. 

Examples of strength training exercises include:

  • Push-ups
  • Squats
  • Burpees
  • Weightlifting 
  • Planks
  • Calf raises

Interval Training

Interval training or High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is an effective exercise method that alternates between short bursts of high-intensity exercise with brief periods of rest or lower-intensity exercise. HITT workouts can help improve cardiovascular fitness, increase metabolism, and reduce the risk of heart disease. Raising and lowering your heart rate effectively burns calories and improves your blood vessels’ function. 

Examples of interval training include:

  • Sprinting intervals
  • Circuit training
  • Stair Running
  • Running for one minute and walking for three minutes (and then repeating the cycle)
  • Spin or cycle classes

The great thing about interval training is that it’s easy to add to a quick workout. Additionally, HIIT workout classes are increasingly popular, so the chances of a workout class in your area are high. Consider trying one out and bringing a friend, or incorporate interval training into your workout routine.


Swimming is a great full-body workout that engages multiple muscle groups, enhances cardiovascular endurance, and helps with any joint concerns. By targeting all areas of the body, swimming improves muscle strength and flexibility. Additionally, swimming works both the heart and lungs, training the body to use oxygen more efficiently

Swimming allows you to work out to your full potential with a minimal chance of injury. Water supports the body, eliminating any kind of pounding pressure associated with running. The repetitive motions of swimming provide a relaxing workout where you can hone in on your breathing and movements. 


Exercise that pumps up your heart rate isn’t the only way to manage heart disease and promote a healthy heart. The calming exercise of yoga is another proactive workout to improve strength, flexibility, balance, and relaxation. Different types of yoga emphasize different focuses, such as toning, strength training, or meditation. 

Yoga allows the body and mind to relax. Emotional stressors can bring on a multitude of physical effects, including the release of cortisol and adrenaline, which narrow your arteries and increase blood pressure. The mental focus of yoga can alleviate stress as well as lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood glucose levels, and heart rate.  


Like yoga, intentional breathing relieves stress and lowers your heart rate. Deep breathing also helps improve your sleep quality by increasing melatonin production. Whatever your motivation, breathwork balances your nervous system and promotes a healthy heart. 

One form of breathwork is box breathing. This form of breathwork has four steps that make a box shape:

  1. Breathe in slowly to a count of four. If you want, place your hands on your stomach to feel it expand.
  2. After breathing in, hold your breath for another count of four seconds.
  3. Breathe out slowly through your mouth, counting to four.
  4. After breathing out, hold your breath again for another count of four.
  5. Repeat the process for as long as desired.

Breathwork influences the whole body and brings your body into a state of calm, helping to lower your heart rate. Consider implementing breathwork into your next yoga or meditation practice. 

The Bottom Line

 Engaging in regular heart health exercises helps maintain and improve cardiovascular fitness. By incorporating a variety of exercises into your routine, you’re taking a proactive and well-rounded approach to your heart health. Remember to listen to your body– your heart rate will tell you when you are doing too little or too much. At Nova Vita, we are committed to supporting your journey toward your whole-body health. For more information on how our services can help you or to schedule an appointment visit our website or contact us today.