How much exercise do I need for a healthy heart?
Kenneth Wutoh is a physical therapist at Page Hospital, Page, Ariz.
Question: How much exercise do I need to do to help my heart?
Answer: Heart disease, including stroke, is the number-one killer of Americans. Along with diet, exercise is one of the best ways to keep your heart healthy. Exercises for a healthy heart are often referred to as aerobic exercises or cardiovascular exercises. Some examples of these types of exercises include walking, biking, swimming, step climbing, hiking, running; any physical activity that gets your heart pumping.
It is suggested that adults and children exercise at least 30 minutes activity day three to five days a week. While this may sound like a lot, the good news is that you can get the same cardiovascular benefits if you break up your physical activity sessions into smaller blocks of time, totaling 30 minutes by the end of the day. Little attempts like parking the car across the street from your work place each day, walking versus driving to run errands, doing some calf raises in the shower, among other shorter bouts of activity add up, and decreases the stress of having to ‘make time to exercise’.
How to start
People with heart problems should consult with their physician before starting an exercise program. Physical therapists, exercise physiologists, and certified personal trainers are other experts that can help you develop an exercise program that is just right for you.
Here are some tips to help you stay on the path of physical fitness:
- Choose an exercise activity you enjoy.
- Be realistic. Set a goal you can achieve and break it down into weekly goals, which can seem more attainable.
- Tell a friend or loved one of your goals and ask him or her to help you achieve it.
- Find a friend or loved one to participate in exercise activities with you.
- Reward yourself with new fitness clothing, when goals are met.
- Seek expert advice prior to initiating and exercise program and be ready to give it your all.