heart health zumba and yoga

Updated September 2018

Featuring Kathaleen King – Dailey, DNP, CRNP

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Physical Activity is Important for Your Heart Health

Everyone knows exercise is good for your health, but sometimes finding a workout you like and getting started is tough.

In recent years, Zumba and Yoga have become very popular and with good reasons. Jessica L. Root, PA-C from the PinnacleHealth CardioVascular Institute at UPMC Pinnacle explains, “Both types of exercise offer great health benefits and are easy and fun to do. We always encourage patients to choose activities they enjoy because these are the activities that will become a healthy habit.”

Benefits of Yoga

Yoga is seen by many as a trendy type of workout but it actually dates back many thousands of years. Consisting of slow-paced movements where participants focus on form and breathing, yoga has various styles of practice including Hatha, vinyasa, and Bikram to name a few.  Beginners often get caught up in the terminology and a feeling of self-consciousness, neither of which should hold someone back.  Yoga is meant to be a practice and a personal effort where you focus on yourself.  Even the most advanced practitioners (called yogis) will explain that they still practice and have od days and bad days.  The most important advice when beginning yoga is to be patient with yourself.

Yoga is meant to be a practice and a personal effort where you focus on yourself.

People now realize the many health benefits yoga offers which explain why so many people have made this a part of their healthy lifestyle.  These benefits are both mental and physical and include lower blood pressure, increased lung capacity, improved respiratory function and heart rate, better circulation, and better muscle tone.

Additionally, yoga can aid in stress management, which provides positive benefits to heart health.
“Significant stress has many negative effects on the body, including negative effects on the heart.  Yoga can help reduce stress by clearing the mind, increasing focus, and lowering blood pressure, even after just one session,” explains Santina Sperling MS, CRNP with PinnacleHealth CardioVascular Institute at UPMC Pinnacle.

Benefits of Zumba


Zumba is a more recent workout craze that combines upbeat Latin music with a handful of easy to learn dance based moves.  Most participants describe Zumba as more dance party than a workout, but don’t be fooled there are serious benefits to Zumba. The benefits include calorie burn, increased aerobic threshold, more stamina, increased bone density, improved balance and muscle tone, less body fat, and lower blood pressure.

“From a cardiovascular standpoint, any exercise that helps maintain a healthy weight, and helps to lower blood pressure, is a good exercise to try,” says Jessica L. Root, PA-C a physician assistant and part of the PinnacleHealth CardioVascular Institute at UPMC Pinnacle.

How Physical Activity Can Improve Your Health

The American Health Association recommendations for physical activity outline the best way to about achieving heart health benefits from exercise. They include:

  • Get the equivalent of at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity (2 hours and 30 minutes) each week.
  • You can incorporate your weekly physical activity with 30 minutes a day on at least five days a week.
  • Physical activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably, it should be spread throughout the week.
  • Include flexibility and stretching exercises.
  • Include muscle strengthening activity at least two days each week.

Join us during heart month for a variety of free seminars on how to improve your heart health. Visit us online at UPMCPinnacle.com/heart

About UPMC Harrisburg

UPMC Harrisburg is a nationally recognized leader in providing high-quality, patient-centered health care services in south central PA. and surrounding rural communities. UPMC Harrisburg includes seven acute care hospitals and over 160 outpatient clinics and ancillary facilities serving Dauphin, Cumberland, Perry, York, Lancaster, Lebanon, Juniata, Franklin, Adams, and parts of Snyder counties. These locations care for more than 1.2 million area residents yearly, providing life-saving emergency care, essential primary care, and leading-edge diagnostic services. Its cardiovascular program is nationally recognized for its innovation and quality. It also leads the region with its cancer, neurology, transplant, obstetrics-gynecology, maternity care, and orthopaedic programs.

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