A Recipe for a Stronger Heart
It turns out a good scare might be just what the doctor ordered for better heart health.
Your heart is a muscle and like any muscle, if you want to make it stronger you have to work it out. The hallmark of a healthy heart is the ability to beat faster when you need it to and then to recover quickly afterwards. You reach this goal by do short bursts of intense activity with a rest in between. That’s the principal behind interval training.
Interval training is a cornerstone of almost any heart-healthy exercise plan. But it’s not the only way to strengthen your heart. Doing other, non-exercise related activities that make your heart race could help make your heart a better, stronger pump.
Try any of these ten exercise-free ways to get your heart racing and your blood pumping … and do a good turn for your heart while having fun.
10 Ways to Make Your Heart Stronger Without Exercising
First let me just clarify that I’m not saying you shouldn’t exercise. You absolutely should!
But that doesn’t mean you can’t do a little something extra for your heart.
1. Have more sex: Not many men object to this method of building heart health. Having sex at least twice a week will help to lower your blood pressure and reduce your stress. Both good for your heart. And sex also gets your blood pumping and your heart racing for a short time, which is the goal.
2. Watch a scary movie: In studies, watching a well-made horror movie—one that is actually scary—increases your heart rate by about 25%. That’s a short-term increase that can help to make your stronger over time.
3. Scare yourself: You know what sets you off. Go and expose yourself to a little mild terror. The snake room at the zoo, an enclosed space, a rollercoaster, you’ll know what it is.
4. Hit a heavy bag: All right, this is technically exercise, but it’s so cathartic, you won’t even realize it. Whenever you’re feeling frustrated about anything all, strap on a pair of boxing gloves and spend a few minutes whaling on a heavy bag. You’ll drive your heart rate up and bring your stress way down.
5. Take the stairs: If you’re going up anyway, take the stairs. If you pretend like the elevator is broken, this totally doesn’t count as exercise. It’s just about getting where you’re going … and doing a good turn for your heart in the process.
6. Kiss the one you love: A long, romantic kiss will give your heart rate a little boost while also lowering your stress.
7. Cheer on your favorite sports team: In one study, researchers found that incidence of heart attacks falls when the home sports team wins. Makes sense. Cheering your home team gets your heart beating a little faster while reducing stress at the same time—that magical, heart-healthy combination.
8. Talk a walk: Walking at a leisurely 3-mile per hour pace for 20 minutes doesn’t feel like exercise, but it will help you get your heart rate up without you even realizing it.
9. Go dancing: I know… a lot of men hate to dance. But, chances are, it will make your wife or girlfriend happy. You’ll give your heart a nice little boost moving around the dance floor, and it won’t even feel like exercise. Plus it could lead to a little number 1 from this list.
10. Learn to breathe properly: Getting your heart rate up for short bursts is good. Having your heart rate be high all the time is bad. Things like stress and poor diet can lead to a higher heart rate. Proper breathing can help to counter both. To breath properly, use your stomach muscles to draw in breath rather than your chest muscles. And then release your breath by just relaxing those same muscles.
Heart disease claims more lives than anything else. So it’s important to you’re your heart health seriously. These 10 easy tips can help you build a stronger, healthy heart with very little effort. But remember, exercise and diet are both crucial for good heart health. And if you have health problems, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor about your plans to improve them.