Do you take care of your family? Goes without saying. Do you take care of your home? Of course. Do you take care of your heart? Maybe not. Heart disease is a leading cause of death in both men and women, but it’s not inevitable. While you can’t change some risk factors — such as family history, sex or age — there are plenty of ways you can reduce your risk of heart disease. One of the most important things you can do for yourself is get moving!
Regular, daily physical activity can lower your risk of heart disease. Physical activity helps you control your weight and reduce your chances of developing other conditions that may put a strain on your heart, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 Diabetes.
If you haven’t been active for a while, you may need to slowly work your way up to these goals, but in general, you should aim for at least:
- 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic exercise, such as walking at a brisk pace
- 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity, such as running
- Two or more strength training sessions a week
Even shorter bouts of activity offer heart benefits, so if you can’t meet those guidelines, don’t give up. Just five minutes of moving can help and activities such as gardening, housekeeping, taking the stairs and walking the dog all count toward your total. You don’t have to exercise strenuously to achieve benefits, but you can see bigger benefits by increasing the intensity, duration and frequency of your workouts. To help maintain your program pick activities you like so it does not seem like another chore you need to check off. Try involving family and friends, they can provide motivation and support. Reward yourself as you meet your fitness goals!
The choices we make every day can have a lasting effect on our heart and vascular health. In addition to exercise it is important to develop a heart healthy eating plan, get good quality sleep, avoid tobacco, manage your stress and get regular health screenings.
Physiotherapists can help you get started by developing a well-rounded program that includes a stretching routine, strength training and cardiovascular fitness.
With a healthy heart… the beat goes on!
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