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Step One: Get Active for Heart Health

December 29, 2010

My Life Check by the American Heart Association offers a simple, seven step list to help people live longer, healthier lives. They call them “Life’s Simple 7” and they are:

    Get Active For Heart Health
  1. Get Active
  2. Eat Better
  3. Lose Weight
  4. Stop Smoking
  5. Control Cholesterol
  6. Manage Blood Pressure
  7. Reduce Blood Sugar

The first two steps have an impact on the rest, because getting active and eating better will help you lose weight, which in turn will have an effect on your cholesterol levels, blood pressure and blood sugar. And if you’re a smoker, you’ll want to quit smoking once you realize how difficult it makes it to enjoy being active.

Getting Active means regular physical activity, which is anything that makes you move your body and in the process burns calories—like climbing stairs or playing sports. Aerobic exercises such as walking, jogging, swimming or biking benefit your heart. Strength and stretching exercises are best for overall stamina and flexibility.

Exercising for as little as 30 minutes each day you can reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure, increasing HDL “good” cholesterol in your blood, controlling blood sugar by improving how your body uses insulin, reducing feelings of stress, controlling body weight and making you feel good about yourself!

Here are some little steps to get you started:

  • Start walking by parking further away from your destination and taking short walks throughout the workday.
  • Try active-play video games with your friends and family. (Nintendo and American Heart Association have teamed up to get Americans moving through active play.)
  • Then build up to a regular walking regimen. Walking is the simplest, most positive change you can make to effectively improve your heart health, and it’s enjoyable, free, easy, social and great exercise. Check out the American Heart Association’s Start Walking program to get going with expert advice.