It’s not news: daily exercise is good for your heart. But just because it’s good for you doesn’t mean it’s easy to do. The American Heart Association suggests at least 30 minutes a day for five days a week of heart healthy exercise to promote heart health and as a valid strategy for helping to prevent heart disease.
Our lives often revolve around sedentary lifestyles. It is easier today than 50 years ago to sit for extended periods of time at work, and to work longer hours each week. Add to that a long commute, and much of the entire day is spent sitting.
Given an inactive lifestyle, setting a routine of regular exercise can seem like a tough challenge. The key to getting started and sticking to it is figuring out what type of exercise works for you, and adding small pieces one day at a time.
The American Heart Association describes the perfect time as “a ‘constellation’ of factors: location, time of day, type of physical activity, and social setting.” It is important that you are comfortable with all of these factors so that actually doing your activity is within reach.
Next, think about what kinds of modifications you can make to your daily routine that will give you small bursts of exercise. The American Heart Association reminds us that “Something is always better than nothing!” and gives one example for breaking up a 30 minute requirement into three 10 minute blocks.
- In the morning, park 10 minutes away from the job and walk briskly.
- At lunch, walk 10 minutes in or around where you work.
- In the afternoon/evening, walk briskly 10 minutes back to your vehicle.
4 Activity Types
There are four major types of exercise that should be incorporated into your routine: endurance (aerobic), strength, balance and flexibility (stretching). Here are some suggestions for each type that you can try to incorporate into your day.
You’ll probably want to start with endurance activity to give your heart a boost. This can include anything from running to riding a bike to playing a sport. The easiest (and least expensive) activity is just walking. It can be done in small bursts throughout the day like the previous example, requires minimal equipment, and can be done alone or with a group.
Strength exercising doesn’t need to be done as frequently as endurance exercising. The American Heart Association recommends twice a week. Using free weights, machines or your own body’s resistance to build muscle makes it easier for your body to burn calories. Balance exercises can be done as often as every day. They are specifically recommended for older adults. Flexibility exercises should be done after your muscles are already warmed up from some other exercise so as not to cause injury.
Some people do better with incorporating exercise if it’s a part of a structured class. One activity that is easy to find is yoga. Practicing yoga engages all four types of activity and can:
- help lower blood pressure,
- increase lung capacity,
- improve respiratory function,
- improve balance
- boost circulation, and
- tone muscles.
In addition, yoga poses require stretching, increasing flexibility.
Whatever exercise routine you adopt, make sure you consult your doctor before beginning. If you’ve had a heart attack, stroke, or other medical situation, you will probably have to start slowly and build up to your regular routine. Remember to always wear your medical ID while exercising. Consider an ID made to withstand the rigor of activity. Shop now>
Source: American Heart Association