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11 Activities for Your Heart

Are you looking for ways to get active? Try some of these simple, heart-healthy activities to keep your heart in top shape.

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Dance Every Day

Whether it’s country dancing or ballroom, dancing burns 480 calories an hour, uses your muscles in new ways – and puts joy in your heart. Some cardiologists say their patients who dance are the healthiest of them all. Try to go twice a month.

 

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Sneak in Power Exercise

The next time you’re out walking, and you’re warmed up, step up the pace for a minute or two. Slow down to take a breather, then repeat. You’ll not only burn more calories, but you’ll also condition your body to feel comfortable at a faster pace so you’ll be able to move more briskly every time you walk.

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Power Clean

Give your home a regular, energetic cleaning. Alternate between upstairs and downstairs chores (instead of doing one floor at a time) to make use of the stairs-they’re your home’s best calorie burner. But be careful going downstairs, especially if you have problems with balance. It’s very easy to fall, particularly when carrying a vacuum cleaner.

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Take the Stairs

Whenever you see a set of stairs, use them. If there’s time (and you’re really enthusiastic), go back down and climb them again. If flexibility and balance aren’t an issue, take two steps at a time. It’s an easy way to get a burst of exercise intensity every day.

 

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Try an Uphill Workout

Walking or riding a bike uphill means working harder against gravity-an added challenge for your muscles, heart and lungs. Tackle some slopes (start with gentle ones) once or twice a week. When walking uphill, lean forward slightly to engage your powerful gluteal muscles. Walking downhill can be harder on your knees, so slow your pace, keep your knees slightly bent and take shorter steps.

 

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Start Swimming

Water is 800 times denser than air, so it provides instant intensity. Head for the pool, wade into the water about chest deep and try these moves:
Side kicks: Bend your right knee and then, without lowering it, kick out to the side, leaning toward the left as you kick. Lower your leg and repeat. Do 15 to 25 repetitions, then switch legs.
High steps: March quickly across the pool, raising your knees as high as possible as you step. Then march back. Zigzag run Pump your arms and legs and jog gently or run in a zigzag pattern across the pool and back. For the best results, keep your chest high and try not to bend forward.

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Play with the Kids

Children are natural stop-and-go exercisers as they run and run, stop to catch a breath and then run some more. Play Frisbee, fly a kite, kick a soccer ball around or toss some horseshoes. You’ll raise your heart rate and build priceless family bonds.

 

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Walk with Friends

Plan a few walks a week with someone who is just a little fitter and faster than you. You’ll push beyond your comfort zone and get fitter, faster yourself. Exercising with a friend makes time fly, and you’re more likely to stick to the routine if you do it with someone else.

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Pre-program Your Workout

If you use a treadmill or other aerobic exercise equipment, choose the “interval” program to automatically add inclines, increased resistance and higher-speed bursts to your workout. Work up gradually and watch your strength and stamina improve.

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Increase Your Workout Intensity

Walking trails, soft sand and grassy fields all make you use more muscles and burn more calories than you would going at the same pace on the road. They’re often in prettier places, too – so get off the beaten path whenever possible. But make sure, you’re not trespassing.

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Take Up a New Sport

Resolve to take up one active hobby this year. Sporting hobbies such as tennis, cycling and even golf include short bursts of heart-pumping effort. And they’re fun, so time really flies.