Heart health is important all year ‘round, but February is Heart Health Month and the perfect time to rethink new ways you can improve on that particular aspect of your health and wellness. Every now and then, it’s healthy to get your heart rate going. Doing so helps train your body how to best move oxygen and blood to your muscles efficiently. This, in turn, can help you burn more calories and gain those all-important active minutes each day.
It’s important to preface this by saying that every individual is unique, and you should always consult with your doctor before pushing yourself to do any activities that are designed to increase your heart rate. For those who have the all-clear, however, there are some obvious as well as unique ways to get your heart pumping.
The most obvious way to get your heart rate going is to exercise. Fitness trackers and smartwatches are useful in so many ways, and one of them is the ability to track 24/7 heart rate. With one that can do so on your wrist, you can keep track of your heart rate in real time while you exercise. Some will even notify via slight vibrations or on-screen data when your heart rate reaches fat burn, cardio, and peak levels. This indicates when you should try and pick up the speed and intensity to reach these important zones, or conversely, slow down so you don’t over-exert yourself.
Many cardio machines also have built-in heart rate sensors that can capture this data from your hands or you can use a chest strap heart rate monitor while working out. See our home gym buying guide for items you can set up to get started.
A short game of sports like baseball, football, soccer, hockey, tennis, volleyball, or others can really get your heart rate going without you even realizing it. You’ll be running around, jumping, bending, kicking, throwing, and having tons of fun, all while doing good things for your heart health.
Even a short 15-minute soccer game in the backyard with the kids or tossing a ball around can help you get a few extra active minutes each day that can do wonders for your hearth health.
Interactive video games with VR
Video games are typically considered sedentary activities, but they require a lot of brain power, critical thinking, and hand-eye coordination. Some games, like Just Dance, actually require that you get up and move as well.
Add virtual reality (VR) to the mix, and you can actually get your heart rate going while playing video games. Not only are you moving your body around, but being faced by zombies who look as though they are coming right at you, or looking down into an abyss, feeling as though you are about to fall over, is enough to get anyone’s blood pumping. Playing video games doesn’t have to equate to sitting on the couch and only moving your fingers. There are a lot of ways to make this a heart healthy activity, too.
See our video game console and game streaming buying guide for ideas on what console to use and games to play that will suit you and your family.
Running, jogging, or walking
If you prefer running, jogging, or walking to exercising via a set workout, these activities can get your heart pumping, too. You don’t have to run a full 5K, especially if you find that you don’t have the endurance to do so. But even a brisk 15-20 minute walk every day, or a few days a week, can make a difference.
Bundle up through the winter months, pop in a good pair of true wireless earbuds, set up a walking playlist from your favourite streaming service, and the time will pass by as you bop to tunes and enjoy the outdoor scenery. The fresh air will be good for you as well. Consult our running accessories buying guide for more recommendations on what to get to make your outdoor running more enjoyable.
A competitive board game
Board games are fun, but did you know they can also get your heart rate going? Especially if you tend to be competitive, you can really get worked up trying to guess a clue or beat a timer. Or maybe you’re wheeling and dealing in a game like Monopoly and anxious that you don’t land on your family member’s Park Place square where they’ve erected a hotel. Board games can be intense, especially ones that require physical movement, like Twister. Did you know that fitness trackers like the Amazfit Band 7 even include board games as one of the built-in sports and activity options you can track with it?
Try to plan a family board game night at least once a month and select different games each time to see which ones get you most excited. See our board games buying guide for ideas.
Fast-paced cooking session
There’s a reason anyone who works in a kitchen or restaurant comes home exhausted after a day’s or night’s work. It’s an intense job that’s high pressure and has you moving constantly. While cooking at home doesn’t require that you keep up with the same speed (your diners are family members who can wait patiently until it’s done!) a fast-paced cooking session is actually a good way to get your heart rate going.
If you’re doing things like rolling or kneading dough, it can actually get your heart rate going. (I have had my fitness tracker automatically log a workout when I was kneading and rolling dough!) Combine this with the intense knife skills for chopping to prep vegetables, whipping cream by hand for dessert, and even washing up the dishes at the end of the meal, and cooking with a range of small appliances can actually be a pretty heart-healthy activity. Make sure you’re cooking a heart-healthy meal, too, to stick with the theme.
Read about some small appliances that motivate healthy eating.
Take the stairs
Okay, trudging up several flights of stairs might not exactly qualify as “fun,” but it’s a simple way to get your heart rate up and increase your level of fitness. Wherever possible, take the stairs instead of an escalator or elevator, even if it’s just one flight up and down.
Run in short bursts
Even if you’re not into running and prefer to go for a brisk walk or casual jog, try doing short bursts of running every few minutes while on your walk in order to get your heart rate up. Have fun with it by timing it with music. Every time a song reaches its hook, run until it’s over. This might only be 30 seconds at a time, but it’s a good way to get your heart pumping and beating faster followed by a healthy cool down period when you resume taking steps at a lower pace.
The great thing about gardening is that it’s a calming and stress-reducing activity. But as you dig holes for your plants, flowers, herbs, fruits, and vegetables, you’re working your muscles and probably getting your heart rate up without even realizing it. Even moderate intensity actions like removing weeds, putting down mulch, and watering and tending to plants is a good way to add physical activity to your days and improve your heart health. You might even get some freshly grown fruits and vegetables to add to your diet out of the equation!
Dancing is a form of exercise, so why not incorporate it into your day? Have a family dance party, do a little dance as you clean the house, vacuuming, dusting, or polishing, or even dance along with music videos on the TV or interactive video games like Just Dance. Before you know it, you’ll be working up a sweat, burning calories, raising your heart rate, and having loads of fun in the process.
Heart health should be every month
While February is the month we like to pay particular attention to heart health, it’s something you should be mindful of all year ‘round. A healthy heart requires good blood flow and every little bit of activity counts.
Consult with your doctor on the types of activities you can participate in, determine your target heart rate, and use a device like a fitness tracker or smartwatch to measure how well you’re doing. Look at things like your resting heart rate and active minutes per day and talk with your doctor about ways you can improve.
See lots of health and wellness gear to help you focus on heart health and get your heart rate going at Best Buy Online.