We all know that eating right and exercising is a good way to prevent heart disease. But that doesn’t mean that you have to spend hours at the gym doing cardio or lifting weights. Recent evidence suggests that stretching and/or doing yoga is just as beneficial. Harvard University states that these exercises “may help lower heart disease risk as much as conventional exercise, such as brisk walking.” If you’re looking to maintain a healthy heart, try bending down and reaching for your toes.

Stretching for A Healthy Heart

Believe it or not, core strength and flexibility is an indicator of a healthy heart. A study published in the American Journal of Physiology first found this correlation. The Chicago Tribune writes “for people older than 40 — even if they’re a little overweight — a new study shows that trunk flexibility may be a good indicator of arterial flexibility. Conversely, the study found, stiffness at the midsection seems to reflect arteries that have begun to lose their elasticity as well.” In order to improve your cardiovascular health, consider incorporating some stretching exercises into your daily routine.

Recommended Stretches

Finding the right stretching routine is easy. Here’s two stretches you can do at home. These come the American Heart Association:

Hamstring Stretch

-Stand with your left side facing a wall. Placing your left hand against the wall for balance, keep that arm slightly bent.

  • Place your left heel on the floor in front of you. Lean forward from your hip (not your waist).
  • Push your hip back and reach toward your toe with your right hand. Your foot can be pointing up (as shown) or flat on the floor, whichever is more comfortable for you. Make sure to keep your shoulders and back straight as you reach forward.
  • Hold for two to three seconds.
  • Return to starting position. Then repeat.
  • Complete one set and then turn around and work the other leg

Start with repeating this six times with each leg.

Calf Stretch

-Stand facing a wall slightly farther than arms length from the wall, feet shoulder-width apart. Lean against the wall, with both hands on the wall.

  • Bening one leg, place the foot on the ground in front of you. The other leg extends behind you with the knee slightly bent. Both feet point straight ahead.
  • Slowly move your hips forward, keeping your lower back flat. Be sure the heel of your back foot is flat on the floor, and your weight is in your back heel.
  • Hold for 10-30 seconds. Then return to starting position.
  • Repeat with other leg.
  • Continue alternating legs.

Do this 5 times with each leg to start.

Before starting any exercise routine, we suggest seeing a provider. Our experts can recommend more basic stretches and provide more information about reducing your risk of heart disease. Maintain a healthy heart by contacting Complete Care today.