Experts Reveal The Best Workouts For Your Heart & They're Really Not Even That Difficult

by Georgina Berbari

I'll be honest: As a young person, I don't really think about heart health very much. But, at the same time, I'm completely aware that it's never too early or too late to start caring about this part of your health. No matter what your age is, including workouts that boost your heart health in your exercise routine is a great idea. If nothing else, establishing these healthy habits now will only set you up for success later on down the road.

"It’s a known fact that there are well-documented benefits to heart rate-based training," Kailee Combs, vice president of fitness at the workout technology app MIRROR, tells Elite Daily over email. "The good news is that traditional cardio, such as running or cycling, isn’t the only way to go." Bless.

In reality, according to Combs, anything that gets your heart rate up can count as cardio. In fact, she explains, strength training, if it packs enough challenging resistance and minimal rest, can actually get your heart pumping even more efficiently than traditional cardio can.

All that being said, here are five effective, strength-based exercises (and a couple more low-key options) that are sure to boost your heart health.

Bottoms Up Lunge
Shannon Hyem on YouTube

According to Combs, exercises that require you to go from being down on the floor to standing up nice and tall can definitely get your heart pumping. Cue the bottoms up lunge, my friends.

"Start in a kneeling position with your right foot forward. Drive through your front foot and step up, squeezing your glutes as you stand," Combs explains. "As you stand, drive your knee toward your chest. Then, lower your knee and return to the starting position."

Perform this for 60 seconds, then switch sides.

Squat Press
3v on YouTube

"With traditional cardio, you have to run faster or farther to stay challenged, which puts repetitive stress on your joints," Combs explains. "Instead, try exercises using moderate weights for moderate reps, and feel the burn without the pounding."

During squat presses, you'll want to send your hips back and lower down into a squat, Combs tells Elite Daily. "Stand tall, and press the kettlebell overhead, before bringing the kettlebell back to your chest," she says. Repeat for 60 seconds.

Step Side Tap

Above all else, Combs tells me that the best cardio is not monotonous; it’s fun.

"Jump to the right, landing on your right foot, before switching sides. Perform this exercise for 30 seconds at an all-out effort, then rest for a full 15 seconds. Repeat four times," Combs suggests.

Gardening — Yes, Really

If you're not really into any of the above workouts, no worries. According to Ben Gotting, a fitness expert for Freeletics, an hour or so of gardening can totally count as a heart-healthy workout — and a recent study from the medical journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise actually confirmed this notion.

While the study itself found that lifting weights (for not even an hour per week, BTW) "may reduce your risk for a heart attack or stroke by 40 to 70 percent," an Iowa State University press release explained, study author Duck-Chul Lee said in a statement that "lifting any weight that increases resistance on your muscles is the key. He added, "My muscle doesn't know the difference if I'm digging in the yard, carrying heavy shopping bags or lifting a dumbbell."

If you think about it that way, there are so many things that can count as heart-healthy exercise — the options are endless.

Jumping Jacks — Or Even A Brisk Walk

"Exercise of any duration counts toward the [federal exercise guidelines]," Dr. Edo Paz, clinical director at Heartbeat Health and medical advisor for the free primary health care app K Health, tells Elite Daily email. "So even if you have a five-minute break, take a brisk walk, or do some jumping jacks."

According to Paz, even short bursts of movement boast some pretty great benefits, as long as you keep at it over a long period of time. He tells Elite Daily that regularly doing something as simple as jumping jacks or brisk walks can improve your brain health, reduce your risk of cancer, and yes, boost your heart health, too.