Exercise for a Healthy Heart
A sedentary (inactive) lifestyle is one of the top risk factors for heart disease. Fortunately, it’s a risk factor that you can do something about. Regular exercise, especially aerobic exercise, has many benefits. It can:
- Strengthen your heart and cardiovascular system.
- Improve your circulation and help your body use oxygen better.
- Improve your heart failure symptoms.
- Increase energy levels so you can do more activities without becoming tired or short of breath.
- Increase endurance.
- Lower blood pressure.
- Improve muscle tone and strength.
- Improve balance and joint flexibility.
- Strengthen bones.
- Help reduce body fat and help you reach a healthy weight.
- Help reduce stress, tension, anxiety and depression.
- Boost self-image and self-esteem.
- Improve sleep.
- Make you feel more relaxed and rested.
- Make you look fit and feel healthy.
How Do I Get Started?
Before starting an exercise program, talk to your doctor and/or physical therapist about:
- Medication changes. New medications can greatly affect your response to exercise; your doctor can tell you if your normal exercise routine is still safe.
- Heavy lifting. Make sure that lifting or pushing heavy objects and chores such as raking, shoveling, mowing, or scrubbing aren’t off limits. Chores around the house can be tiring for some people; make sure you only do what you are able to do without getting tired.
- Safe exercises. Get approval before you lift weights, use a weight machine, jog, or swim.
In general, to achieve maximum benefits, you should gradually work up to an aerobic session lasting 20 to 30 minutes, at least three to four times a week. Exercising every other day will help you keep a regular aerobic exercise schedule.