The heart of the matter: Stay active this summer to keep your heart healthy


Net gain: Tennis is an excellent way to stay active in warmer weather

“Strengthen your heart by doing as little as ten minutes of physical activity a day.” This is the expert advice from Dr Gosia Wamil, consultant cardiologist at Mayo Clinic Healthcare.

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death worldwide. A significant challenge in combating heart disease is that many of its causes, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and undetected heart conditions, often present no symptoms. However, cardiovascular disease is often preventable and adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle can significantly reduce your risk. Regular physical activity is one of the most effective ways to protect your heart. Exercise can reduce your risk of major illnesses, including coronary heart disease, strokes, type two diabetes and cancer and lower your risk of early death by up to 30 per cent (Benefits of exercise,

Maintaining an active lifestyle is essential for heart health. With the summer approaching, it is the perfect time to take advantage of the warmer weather and longer days and incorporate more movement into your daily routine.

Why staying active matters

Neglecting physical activity can lead to high blood pressure, a condition where your arteries face increased resistance to blood flow. Staying active can significantly help in lowering blood pressure by enhancing the flexibility of your blood vessels. When you engage in regular exercise, it boosts your "good" cholesterol while reducing the "bad" kind, preventing dangerous plaque build-up in your arteries. Exercise also fortifies the heart muscle, improving its efficiency in pumping blood, which lowers your resting heart rate.

Carrying extra weight can put immense strain on your heart and heightens the risk of cardiovascular disease. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight through regular exercise and a nutritious diet helps keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels within healthy ranges.

Chronic stress is a known enemy of cardiovascular health. Exercise serves as a powerful stress reliever by releasing endorphins, which help to reduce stress and anxiety, ultimately benefiting your heart.

Summer activities to improve heart health

The warmer weather offers numerous opportunities to stay active:

• Walking: Enhances cardiovascular health and is a relaxing way to enjoy nature or explore new areas.

• Jogging: Strengthens the heart muscle and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Longer daylight hours and warmer weather make running outside more enjoyable.

• Hiking: Elevates the heart rate and improves cardiovascular endurance. It also reduces stress levels. Summer offers the ideal conditions for exploring trails and enjoying nature, making hiking a physical and mental health booster.

• Swimming: This low impact activity helps improve cardiovascular health, muscle strength and flexibility without putting stress on the joints. Cool off in pools, lakes or in the sea in this summer whilst getting in a full body workout.

• Cycling: A low-impact activity great for cardiovascular health. Take advantage of the warm weather by exploring your surroundings on bike. Whenever possible, choose cycling over driving or using public transport to increase your cardiovascular activity whilst enjoying the outdoors.

• Tennis: a perfect sport to play in the summer, enjoying the sunshine and staying active in a competitive and fun way.

• Dancing: Whether this involves a class or freeform movement, dancing is a fun way to improve cardiovascular fitness. Outdoor dance classes can be a great way to make exercise more enjoyable and social.

Dr Wamil’s tips to help you keep your heart healthy during the summer:

• Set achievable goals: Begin with small steps and gradually increase your activity levels.

• Find enjoyable exercises: Choose activities you enjoy to keep yourself motivated.

• Stay social: Workout with friends or join a fitness group to make exercise more fun.

• Variation: Keep your routine interesting by varying your activities.

• Stay hydrated: Ensure you drink plenty of water, especially in hot weather.

• Listen to your body: Avoid overexertion and make sure to rest when needed.

Mayo Clinic Healthcare, in Portland Place London, provides a comprehensive, integrated and streamlined approach to clinical assessment, thorough investigations and a clear management plan. Mayo Clinic Healthcare cardiologists offer a wealth of expertise and advanced diagnostics testing to ensure a clear understanding of your condition, which are vital to tailoring effective treatments to you. It is also the front door to Mayo Clinic Rochester, USA and over 5,000 physicians across every specialty.

Learn more about Mayo Clinic Healthcare’s state-of-the-art health services at or call 020 7871 2575.

Dr Gosia Wamil is a consultant cardiologist at Mayo Clinic Healthcare.

She has dedicated herself to cardiology, garnering a breadth of experience and knowledge in this field. Her approach centres on patient well-being, combining the latest medical advancements and, in particular, noninvasive imaging techniques with genuine care to achieve the best outcomes for patients. Dr Wamil is known for her cardiac MRI, CT and advanced echocardiography expertise and can often combine them in transformational ways to treat complex cardiovascular cases

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