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Making Physical Activity a Way of Life for Heart Health

June 18, 2010


In addition to eating well, being physically active is important for health at any age. Regular physical activity reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke. It also helps you reduce or control other risk factors — high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, excess body weight and diabetes. But the benefits don’t stop there. You may look and feel better, become stronger and more flexible, have more energy, and reduce stress and tension. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

The American Heart Association put together some ideas on how to make physical activity a heart-healthy, habitual way of life.

Here are some of their ideas:

  • Choose activities you enjoy and make sure it’s convenient for you. If you need good weather, have a back-up plan for bad days (e.g., when it rains, walk in the mall instead of the park).
  • Start slowly — don’t overdo it!
  • Try to exercise at the same time each day so it becomes a regular part of your lifestyle. For example, you might exercise every day during your lunch hour from noon to 12:30.
  • Drink lots of water before, during and after each exercise session.
  • Get your family into physical activity! It’s great to have a support system, and you’ll be getting them into an important health habit.
  • Join an exercise group, health club or YMCA.
  • Do a variety of activities. Walk one day, take a swim the next time, then go for a bike ride on the weekend!
  • If you miss a day, plan a make-up day. Don’t double your exercise time during your next session.
  • If you stop for any length of time, don’t lose hope! Just get started again — slowly — and work up to your old pace.

The updated physical activity guidelines for Americans state any movement that gets your heart rate up, even just a little bit, is beneficial. And as you can see, there are a lot of easy exercises for you to try, but start by talking to your doctor first.  

For more information on the updated physical activity guidelines for Americans, check out our guide “Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.”  Inside you’ll find more ways to ease yourself into an exercise routine and learn how hard you should be exercising to see results.

Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans