Physical Activity & The Healthy Heart

couple walking dogsPhysical activity is important for good heart health. It is beneficial in healthy individuals, people who are considered high risk for disease, and those who are currently living with chronic health conditions. From a heart standpoint, physical activity can lower your blood pressure, reduce your cholesterol, decrease your blood sugar and therefore your risk for diabetes, and overall reduces your chances of dying from heart disease related illness.

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What is physical activity that is relevant to heart health?

Physical activity for the heart is activity that increases heart rate to a certain level, and maintains that level for enough time for the heart to develop stamina, good cardiac circulation and improve cardiac muscle function.

How much physical activity does one need to obtain a healthy heart?

According to the American College of Cardiology, people should engage in a minimum of 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or a minimum of 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity. Once the minimum level is attained, and one is comfortable exercising to this level, then one can slowly increase to a moderate aerobic activity level of 300 minutes a week, or increase to a vigorous aerobic activity level of 150 minutes a week. The length of time it takes between the start of your heart healthy exercise program and the accomplishment of your 300 minute per week moderate activity routine is left at your discretion and your physical activity level.

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What are examples of physical activities that can be considered for one’s healthy heart routine?

Moderate aerobic activities include things like brisk walking, dancing, and water aerobics, while vigorous aerobic activity includes things like running, hiking uphill and swimming laps. A good gauge of whether you are engaged in a moderate versus a vigorous physical activity is your ability to talk and/or sing while exercising. If you are able to talk comfortably, but not able to sing the words of your favorite song while you exercise, then you are more than likely engaged in moderate physical activity. Whereas, if you are barely able to utter 1-2 words while you exercise, then you are more than likely engaged in vigorous physical activity.