Running is one of the most accessible forms of exercise that anybody can do. Aside from a good cardio exercise, running gives us other benefits that we may not know of. When running, one can catch up with his or her ideas, enjoy your playlist, bask in the scenery of the neighborhood you picked where to run, and most especially, you get to keep your heart healthy.
The heart is a muscular organ that is the center of the circulatory system. Just like any other muscle, the heart also needs to be strengthened, toned and taken care of. When the heart is healthy, it can properly supply the other organs of the body the blood and oxygen they need to function properly. Just like any other gadget or machine, the human body functions properly when the components inside, the organs, are healthy.
When exercising, we do have a pattern, a routine and we stick to it. Starts with stretching, warming up, the exercise itself, after several repetitions, we start with toning down exercises. This is to prepare our body and let it adjust to the rigidity of the exercise and also, to allow the heart to go back to its normal heart rate. Running, just like any other form of exercise, requires us to do warm-up exercises not just for our body but for our lungs and heart muscles too. During warm-up, our blood is pumped and we know that when it does, the organs of our body receive an adequate supply of oxygen. When exercising, the muscles need to be flexible; they need to be ready to go with the flow of the workout. Warming-up helps our heart in slowly raising the heartbeat rate, preparing it for the rigid activity the exercise entails, which avoids stressing the heart when the actual rigid exercise takes place.
Four main things to do for your heart muscle warm-up:
Regulate your breathing
Before we begin with any type of exercise, especially running, we should always start by breathing properly. Let us take a few minutes and breathe in and out. Take your time. Don’t rush it. Remember, we are preparing our lungs and our heart for running. Take in as much air as you can, hold it for a few seconds, and then slowly exhale. Doing so maintains the elasticity of the lungs, making the walls of the lungs flexible and able to assist the heart muscle in bringing oxygen to the entire body.
Stretching may not seem to help the heart muscle a lot however when preparing our legs and feet for running, we also help the heart muscle by not putting stress onto it. When the other muscles of our body are able to smoothly move during the run, the heart is not pressured. When we perform stretching activities like bending and touching our toes or leg lunges, we help the muscles of the legs prepare for the run. This way, the other muscles are not stressed. The heart can go about in its rhythmic pumping as we go along. The heart muscle is then prepared to pump more.
When running, we should not outright start with our laps. After regulating our breathing, we must start out by either walking or brisk walking. This should slowly increase our heart rate and at the same time, prepare our heart muscle before we proceed in our run. Walking or brisk walking before we start running also helps us be conscious of our posture – important for proper breathing. We should start slow, in order to avoid any injuries to the leg muscles and at the same time avoid straining the lungs and the heart.
Start running does not mean go the full speed of your normal run. Begin with a light jog and slowly increase the speed as you do so. You can maintain a particular speed and when properly broken in, gradually increase the speed as your body deems fit. We can maintain speed for a few minutes, however, when we feel we are out of breath, we should slowly reduce the speed of our pace and settle for walking or brisk walking. Shortness of breath is an indication that our heart muscle is having a hard time circulating blood to the other organs in our body and may cause damage or unwanted health issues.
Running daily is proven to help with the improvement of one’s health, particularly, the heart muscle. Running is a good cardio exercise that allows us to follow a pattern on how to properly care for our body, our muscles, and our heart. We should always remember to warm up your heart muscle before a long run. This way, we are assured that our body gets the proper oxygen it needs and stay healthy.
Need professional assistance to help you warm up your heart muscle before a long run? Tribeca Physical Therapy is officially reopened for in-person physical therapy sessions and continues to offer Telehealth PT or Virtual PT. Call us at 2124068080 or message us and book your first session free.