We all watched in horror as Christian Eriksen, the Danish midfielder collapsed just before half-time during Denmark’s Euro 2020 match against Finland.

Thanks to the quick reactions of his teammates and the medical staff, Eriksen was given life-saving CPR. Denmark team doctor Morten Boesen said afterwards:

“It was a cardiac arrest. He was gone and we did cardiac resuscitation. How close were we to losing him? I don’t know. We got him back after one defib [defibrillation]. That’s quite fast.”

It has since been confirmed that Eriksen will be fitted with a heart-starter device (ICD), this device is necessary after a cardiac attack due to rhythm disturbances and is recommended by specialists across the world.

We of course, wish Christian all the best in his recovery, but once again the question of why, how or what causes a cardiac arrest is back in the spotlight.

Footballers, as all professional athletes do, have access to some of the best medics in the world and are given regular medicals and tests. It could be that it was just one of those freak incidents but keeping your heart healthy has never been more important.

Right now there are more than 7 million people in the UK living with cardiovascular disease and because of rising rates of sedentary lifestyles, this number keeps on growing. Almost everyone will know somebody who has had heart troubles.


Exercise Improves Heart Health

Your heart is made up of a very specialised kind of muscle called cardiac muscle. This type of muscle isn’t incredibly powerful, but it is great at working very hard for a long time. Most people’s hearts will beat around 5,000 times in an hour. Try squeezing a stress ball for an hour and see how your forearm feels!

When you regularly raise your heart rate through exercise, your body is forced to build more muscle in your heart to make it stronger. As a result, it doesn’t have to work as hard to do its job.

Of course, there are countless benefits to exercising, particularly for your heart as well as the rest of your body.

We are going to focus on giving you the best tips and advice on exercises that will keep your heart healthy!


Cardiovascular Exercises

Interval training is fantastic!

It can be as effective, if not more effective that traditional cardio exercise for improving health.

It’s time efficient – sessions can last as little as a few minutes.

It’s easy to adapt – you can change the structure of a session easily to make it harder or easier.

You can do it with basically any activity – most frequently sessions are done on treadmills, ellipticals. exercise bikes or rowing machines.

Try this:

Jump on a rowing machine and start with a 5 minute warm-up at a steady pace just to get the blood flowing. Then start your intervals with a 20-second sprint. Follow this with 40-seconds at a very light pace, but still moving. Repeat this pattern for 10-minutes. Finish off with a 5-minute cool-down, and you’re done!

We would recommend the BodyMax WR40 Rowing Machine! It’s perfect for exercise which will benefit your whole body. Or you can check out our guide – Which Rowing Machine Suits You?


Weightlifting

Many people are not aware that lifting weights can be as beneficial for improving your heart health as cardio exercise.

The key to keeping your heart healthy through weightlifting is to break away from the traditional sets and reps pattern. Two great ways of doing this are by using ‘drop sets’ and ‘supersets’.

During a drop set, you decrease the weight you are lifting after you get tired so that you can continue the exercise. So maybe you start by performing 10 repetitions of an exercise before you reach failure, you would then decrease the weight and continue without resting. You can do this any number of times to make the set as hard as you like.

A superset combines two different exercises which you perform back-to-back without resting.

There are three main ways to do this:

Complimentary exercises: This is where you perform two exercises which target the same muscle group. This could be bench press followed by push-ups (both chest exercises). This is a great method if you have a particular area you want to target.

Opposing exercises: This involves choosing exercises which target muscles which perform the opposite action. For example, the triceps (back of the upper arm) are designed to extend your elbow and the biceps (front of the upper arm) flex your elbow. You could exercise these in a superset using triceps extensions and biceps curls.

Staggered exercises: This type of superset is ideal if you want to work more of your body in a shorter space of time. You exercise two muscle groups which are completely unrelated. So you could superset pull-ups (upper back exercise) with squats (legs exercise).

You can do a huge range of weightlifting exercises in your own home with the BodyMax CF475 Heavy Power Rack.


Circuits

 

If you can’t decide whether you would rather do cardio or weightlifting, you don’t have to! Circuit training is a great way to combine a number of different exercises to get a massive benefit in a short space of time.

You can pick any number of exercises, and you perform each of them for a set period of time or a set number of reps. Then you would rest and repeat the circuit for several rounds.

Try this:

Kettlebell swing: 1-minute

Medicine ball slam: 1-minute

Punch bag: 1-minute

Plank: 1-minute

Repeat this circuit 3-4 times, resting 2-minutes between each.

We would recommend starting out with a BodyMax Punch Bag to really get the blood pumping!


This article was first published in October 2018 & updated in June 2021.

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