October 24, 2011

Exercise Recommendations From The American Heart Association

For most healthy people:
We suggest at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity). 30 minutes a day, five times a week is an easy goal to remember, however you will also experience benefits even if you divide your time into two or three segments of 10 -15 minutes per day.


Physical activity is anything that makes you move your body and burn calories, such as climbing stairs or playing sports. Aerobic exercises benefit your heart, such as walking, jogging, swimming or biking. Strength and stretching exercises are best for overall stamina and flexibility.

The simplest, positive change you can make to effectively improve your heart health is to start walking. It’s enjoyable, free, easy, social and great exercise. A walking program is flexible and boasts high success rates because people can stick with it. It’s easy for walking to become a regular and satisfying part of life.

What if I can’t make it for 30 minutes?

Something is always better than nothing! And everyone has to start somewhere. Even if you’ve been sedentary for years, today is the day you can begin to make healthy changes in your life. If you don’t think you’ll make it for thirty minutes, set a reachable goal for today. You can work up toward your overall goal of thirty minutes by increasing your time as you get stronger. Don’t let all-or-nothing thinking rob you of doing what you can every day. Some great low intensity exercises inlcude:

  • walking for pleasure, gardening and yard work.
  • house work, dancing and prescribed home exercise.
  • recreational activities such as tennis, racquetball, soccer, basketball and touch football.

 

What risk factors are reduced?

  • Exercise can also help reduce or eliminate some of these risk factors: High blood pressure — Regular exercise is associated with lower blood pressure.
  • Cigarette smoking — Smokers who exercise vigorously and regularly are more likely to cut down or stop cigarette smoking.
  • Diabetes — People at their ideal weight are much less likely to develop diabetes. Exercise may also decrease a diabetic’s insulin
    requirements.
  • Obesity and overweight — Exercise can help people lose excess fat or stay at a reasonable weight.
  • Low levels of HDL — Low levels of HDL (one of the cholesterol-carrying proteins in the blood) have been linked to an increased risk of coronary artery disease. Recent studies have shown that regular physical activity significantly increases HDL levels, and thus reduces your risk.

 

What are other benefits of exercise?

Physical activity builds healthy bones, muscles and joints, and reduces the risk of colon cancer and breast cancer. In fact, millions of Americans suffer from illnesses that can be prevented or improved through regular physical activity.

Physical activity also brings psychological benefits. For example, it reduces feelings of depression and anxiety, improves mood and promotes a feeling of well-being.

When should I consult my doctor?

Some people should consult their doctor before they start a vigorous exercise program. See your doctor if any of these apply to you:

  • Your doctor said you have a heart condition and recommended only medically supervised physical activity.
  • During or right after you exercise, you frequently have pains or pressure in the left or mid-chest area, left neck, shoulder or arm.
  • You have developed chest pain within the last month.
  • You tend to lose consciousness or fall over due to dizziness.
  • You feel extremely breathless after mild exertion.
  • Your doctor recommended you take medicine for your blood pressure or a heart condition.
  • Your doctor said you have bone or joint problems that could be made worse by the proposed physical activity.
  • You have a medical condition or other physical reason not mentioned here which might need special attention in an exercise program (for example, insulin-dependent diabetes).
  • You are middle-aged or older, have not been physically active, and plan a relatively vigorous exercise program.

If none of these is true for you, you can start on a gradual, sensible program of increased activity tailored to your needs. If you feel any of the physical symptoms listed above when you start your exercise program, contact your doctor right away.

If one or more of the above is true for you, an exercise-stress test may be used to help plan an exercise program.


© 1999, 2011 American Heart Association, Inc. All rights reserved.

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