Try This Science-Backed Workout That Can Decrease Your Risk Of Having A Heart Attack, Even If It Runs In Your Family

Your heart health may not entirely be up to genetics – it may be as simple as going for a run or incorporating a few of these moves into your next work out


Kelleigh Korevaar |

New findings in Circulation, the American Heart Association’s journal suggest that exercising might be the key to keeping your heart healthy. Which isn’t really a surprise considering exercise plays a part in warding of numerous health issues and diseases including arthritis, diabetes, asthma and of course, the dreaded beer boep. What is surprising is just how great the affect is; “as fitness increases, heart risk decreases regardless of genetic risk,” reports ScienceDaily.

Related: Add This to Your List of Diseases That Exercise Can Ward Off

The data from roughly half a million people shows that people with greater grip strength, better cardio-respiratory fitness and more physical activity have a reduced risk for strokes and heart attacks; even those who have a genetic predisposition for heart disease.

The Numbers:

Those with an immediate genetic risk for heart disease who had strongest grips were:

36% less likely to develop coronary heart disease and had a

46% reduction in risk for arterial fibrillation than those with the same genetic risk who had weak grips

Related: 5 Exercises To Build Crushing Grip Strength

The Workout:

There’s no harm in adding some of these moves to your workout. Next time you hit the gym, try focus on improving your grip more. These are 3 of our favourites:

1. Pull Up

This is a great grip builders because your hands and forearms need to support your weight throught the entire rep.

Related: 9 Ways to Shred Your Core Using Only a Pullup Bar

Do it: Grab the bar with an overhand grip that’s slightly wider than shoulder width. Start by hanging and then pull your chest up to the bar. Press your thighs together, brace your abs, and point your legs slightly in front of you to form a wide C. Maintain this rigid position throughout the entire movement.

2. Incline Farmer’s Walk

The farmer’s walk is most loved (and hated) for being a full-body workout that gets you a shredded, iron core. But what people forget is just how good it can be for building grip strength.

Related: The Ferocious 10-Minute Farmer’s Walk Finisher

Do it: Grab a kettlebell in each hand and hop on the treadmill. Set the incline at 5% (higher if you feel you can) and start walking. Try get to 5 minutes, if you can’t go lighter next time. Once you start getting stronger, you can increase your gradient, your weight and your time. This is a super versatile workout that can grow with your grip gains.

3. Overhand Grip Dead Hang

Hanging from a bar sounds pretty easy compared to some other exercises. But it’s not your strength you have to worry about, it’s your grip. We guarantee you won’t last as long as you think you will.

Related: This Workout Uses 3 Different Grips And Stances To Spur Muscle Growth

Do it: With an overhand grip with hands at slightly wider than shoulder-width, hang from a pull up bar. Hang for 1 minute or as long as you last.

The Numbers:

Those with a high genetic risk for heart disease who had high levels of cardio-respiratory fitness had a:

49% lower risk for coronary heart disease and a

60% lower risk for atrial fibrillation than those with the same genetic risk who had low cardio-respiratory fitness.

Related: Cardio Sessions May Literally Make Your Brain Bigger

The Workout:

In case you’re lost, cardiorespiratory fitness is your body’s circulatory and respiratory system’s ability to supply fuel and oxygen whilst performing sustained physical activity. The most common test of this is the VO2 Max test. Basically, get active and reap the rewards of a healthy heart. It’s as simple as these 3 moves:

1. Burpees

Burpees have a bad rep and that’s because they’re damn challenging. This is a full-body workout that send your legs, core and arms into overdrive and gets your heart pumping.

Related: Scorch Body Fat With This Rows and Burpees Challenge

Do it: With your feet shoulder-width apart, arms at your side and weight in your heels, squat. Put your hands on the floor just inside your feet and shift your weight onto them. Jump your feet back onto the balls of your feet and into a plank position. Hold. Jump your feet back so that they are on the outside of your hands. Reach your hands upwards and jump up as high as you can. Land and go straight into a squat for your next rep. Do 15.

2. Split Jump

Not only does this move have major cardiovascular benefits, but it is also great for your glutes and legs.

Related: 8 Cardio Exercises That Burn More Calories than Running

Do it: Stand with your feet hip distance apart. Take a large step forward with one foot and then lower your body towards the floor. Once you’ve lunged both legs should be bent at a 90 degree angle. Lower your back knee slightly and jump to switch feet. Whilst in the air switch the leg in the front to the back and the back to the front and land in a lunge position. That’s 1 rep. Do 16.

3. Jump Rope

Skipping is one of the most underrated exercises out there; it’s one of the best cardio exercise you can do. And even better, it’s a key exercise to having a healthy heart.

Related: Your Secret To Massive Gains In The Gym? Rope Up!

Do it: Start with the skipping rope at your feet. For 30 seconds skip as fast as you can, with both feet together. For the next 30 seconds skip at a challenging speed but not at your max. Do this for 3 minutes.

Lessons To Learn

This is an observational study which means it was designed to study trend. Thus, a causal relationship cannot be made. And the study does not make an attempt to prescribe a certain type or way of exercising for people, it merely reports on the trends they have seen.

The important thing is to watch what you eat and avoid the foods you know you shouldn’t be eating. But remember, that this research has shown you’re not doomed by your genes. If you work out and stay committed, you can lower your risk of heart disease by a crazy amount and if that isn’t motivation enough then I don’t know what is.

Related: The 5 Best Foods to Fight Heart Disease

“The main message of this study is that being physically active is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, even if you have a high genetic risk,” said Dr. Erik Ingelsson, the lead author of the study and professor of medicine at Stanford University.

READ MORE ON: cardio full body grip health study heart disease heart health strength