Exercise for a Healthier Heart
You may wonder how you can improve the
health of your heart. If you’re thinking about exercise, you’re on the right track.
don’t need to become an athlete. But you do need a certain amount of brisk exercise
strengthen your heart. If you have been diagnosed with a heart condition, your healthcare
provider may advise exercise to help stabilize your condition. To help make exercise
habit, choose safe, fun activities.
Before you start
Check with your healthcare provider
before starting an exercise program. This is especially important if you have not
active for a while. It's also important if you have a long-term (chronic) health problem
such as heart disease, diabetes, or obesity. Or if you are at high risk for having
Exercising regularly offers many healthy rewards. It can help you do all of the following:
Improve your blood cholesterol level to help prevent further heart trouble
Lower your blood pressure to help prevent a stroke or heart attack
Control diabetes, or reduce your risk of getting this disease
Improve your heart and lung function
Reach and stay at a healthy
Make your muscles stronger so
you can stay active
Prevent falls and fractures by slowing the loss of bone mass (osteoporosis)
Manage stress better
Reduce your blood pressure
Improve your sense of self and your body image
Ease into your routine.
Set small goals. Then build on them. If you are not sure what your activity
level should be, talk with your healthcare provider first before starting an
Exercise on most days. Aim
for a total of 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) or more of
moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. Or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15
minutes) or more of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week. Or try for a
combination of both. Moderate activity means that you breathe heavier and your
heart rate increases but you can still talk. Think about doing 40 minutes of
moderate exercise, 3 to 4 times a week. For best results, activity should last
for about 40 minutes to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. It's OK to work
up to the 40-minute period over time. Examples of moderate-intensity activity
are walking 1 mile in 15 minutes. Or doing 30 to 45 minutes of yard work.
Step up your
daily activity level.
Along with your exercise program, try being more
active the whole day. Walk instead of drive. Or park further away so that you take
more steps each day. Do more household tasks or yard work. You may not be able to
meet the advised mount of physical activity. But doing some moderate- or
vigorous-intensity aerobic activity can help reduce your risk for heart disease.
Your healthcare provider can help you figure out what is best for you.
Choose 1 or
more activities you enjoy.
Walking is one of the easiest things you can do.
You can also try swimming, riding a bike, dancing, or taking an exercise
When to call your healthcare provider
Call your healthcare provider if you have any of these:
Chest pain or feel dizzy or
Burning, tightness, pressure,
or heaviness in your chest, neck, shoulders, back, or arms
Abnormal shortness of
More joint or muscle pain
A very fast or irregular