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Exercising For Heart Health

Not only is February the month of L O V E, it is also American Heart Month. This year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are focusing on educating folks about hypertension, also known as uncontrolled high blood pressure. Hypertension increases risk of stroke, heart disease, visual changes, and cognitive decline, just to name a few. There are excellent resources on the CDC website with handouts and educational videos re. hypertension, such as how to take a blood pressure correctly and better ways to manage a healthy blood pressure..


When it comes to physical therapy and heart health, we focus on the benefits of exercise. Not only does cardiovascular work keep the heart healthy, such as walking, running, swimming, but strength training also keeps our heart strong. If you are new to strength training, starting with light loads is optimal as heavy weights do increase your blood pressure at least temporarily. The recommendation from the federal guidelines is to strength train twice a week. They recommend beginning with one set of 8-12 repetitions, and then increasing to three sets as able.


Another excellent way to work both cardiovascular endurance and strength is to exercise in the pool! The resistance of the water is an “easy” way to build strength into a routine. In the water, the faster you move, the more resistance you create, and therefore more muscle you can build. We have pools at two of our locations and many of our patients enjoy exercising in the water as a way to not only stay comfortable, but to build strength in an enjoyable way.


So this February, take care of your heart not only in the old-fashioned way with a romantic Valentine’s dinner, but consider talking to your doctor or health care provider about your heart health. Often times, hypertension does not have any symptoms. And we want you to be around for a loooong time.