February is American Heart Month, a time set aside to recognize the importance of heart health and the prevalence of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. And this year, with the rise of COVID-19, heart health has never been more important.
Public health officials warn that individuals with heart conditions and poor cardiovascular disease are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. According to data from the CDC, people with COVID-19 who have underlying conditions like heart disease are six times more likely to be hospitalized, and cardiovascular disease has become the most common underlying condition among COVID-19 patients.
Likewise, experts fear that Americans’ cardiovascular health has likely worsened over the last year as a result of major lifestyle shifts due to the pandemic. Many people have delayed regular preventative care visits, as well as care for serious symptoms, out of fear of exposure to COVID-19. Additionally, as people have stayed home to limit the spread of COVID-19, many have adopted poor eating and drinking habits, while letting physical activity fall by the wayside.
Studies have also found that stress and anxiety related to the pandemic may be negatively impacting heart health.
The good news is that with a few lifestyle changes, you can reduce your risk of heart disease and stay healthy. One of the best ways to do so is through regular exercise. According to the American Heart Association, a sedentary lifestyle is one of the top five risk factors for cardiovascular disease and over 250,000 U.S. deaths each year can be attributed to a lack of regular physical activity. Exercising 30 minutes a day five days a week can help strengthen your heart, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduce your risk of heart disease. And it’s good for your mental health too!
Need help getting started? We’ve got you covered. Try these 10 exercises from Michael Richardson, MD, to get your heart rate up at home. Do each exercise for one minute and rest for a minute after completing the entire circuit. Repeat the circuit 3 times.
Jump Rope (Invisible)
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hold your hands out at your side as if you are holding a jump rope and begin jumping the invisible rope. You can jump with two feet or alternate feet as you like. Have fun with it!
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your elbows at your sides and hold your arms out in front of you with your palms facing down towards the floor. Lift one knee as high as you can and try to touch your knee to your hands. Quickly switch and do the same with the other knee. Continue alternating at a running pace.
Start with your feet together and your arms at your sides. Jump your feet apart, while lifting your arms out and overhead. Jump back to the starting position and repeat.
Split Squat Jumps
Start with your feet hip-width apart. Step one leg back and bend both knees in a lunge. Your back heel should be off the ground and your knee should be hovering just above the ground. Quickly jump into the same lunge position on the other leg. Keep alternating.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees, lower yourself into a squat, and place your hands on the floor. Jump your feet back into a pushup position, keeping your head and back aligned in a straight line. Jump feet back to meet your hands in the squat position. Then jump straight up, lifting your hands straight over your head. Repeat. If you have to rest, pause in the pushup position.
Start in a plank position with a dumbbell in each hand. Keeping your core tight and back straight, bend one elbow and lift your dumbbell into a row to your rib cage. Lower the dumbbell back to the ground and repeat the row on the other side. If you don’t have dumbbells, that’s okay!
Start in a plank position with your arms straight. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders. Bending your elbows, lower your chest to just a few inches off the ground. Be sure to keep your core tight and your back and neck aligned. Pause and then return to a starting position. If this feels too difficult, start on your knees.
Sit with your feet planted on the floor in front of you. Keeping your abs tight, lean back so your body is at a 45 degree angle. Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell or heavy backpack straight out in front of you. Lift feet slightly off the ground and twist your torso to one side and then return to the center. Repeat on the other side without moving your legs. If you don’t have weights, try clasping hands together in front of you.
Start in a pushup position with your feet hip-width apart. Lower your chest to just a few inches above the ground. Pause and push back up rotating to one side, lifting the same arm up towards the ceiling. Return back to your pushup position and repeat, rotating towards the other side.
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Place your hands behind your head and contract your abs, lifting your upper body off the ground. Be sure to keep your back and neck relaxed, keeping your eyes on the ceiling. You should try to keep your lower back on the ground. Return to your starting position and repeat. Feel free to blend in your ab exercise of choice (V-Sits, bicycles, toe touches, etc).
The One Medical blog is published by One Medical, an innovative primary care practice with offices in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Orange County,Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington, DC.
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