Physical activity is important for building a healthy body supported by a strong heart. Your heart pumps about 115,000 times a day to circulate 2,000 gallons of blood; that’s a lot of work! Support your heart with exercise so your heart can continue to support you.
Exercising on a regular basis has many health benefits, including the prevention or control of high blood pressure. If high blood pressure is not controlled, it can lead to complications such as a heart attack, aneurysm, metabolic syndrome, or dementia.
The general recommendation is to engage in moderate-level physical activity for at least 30 minutes each day. If you are a sedentary individual and have not exercised in many years, you can begin by dividing the 30 minutes into shorter periods of 10 minutes each to make it more manageable. If you are already an “exerciser”, then try adding 1 more minute to your workout each day for an added benefit.
Common chores around the house can count as moderate level activity, in addition to more playing your favorite sports. Here are some examples:
- Washing and waxing a car for 45-60 minutes
- Washing windows or floors for 45-60 minutes
- Gardening for 30-45 minutes
- Pushing a stroller 1½ miles in 30 minutes
- Raking leaves for 30 minutes
- Shoveling snow for 15 minutes
- Stair walking for 15 minutes
- Playing volleyball for 45-60 minutes
- Playing touch football for 45 minutes
- Walking 2 miles in 30 minutes (1 mile in 15 minutes)
- Shooting baskets (basketball) for 30 minutes
- Dancing fast (social) for 30 minutes
- Performing water aerobics for 30 minutes
- Swimming laps for 20 minutes
- Playing basketball for 15-20 minutes
- Jumping rope for 15 minutes
- Running 1½ miles in 15 minutes (1 mile in 10 minutes)
Creating an exercise routine can be fun and liberating! Choose activities you enjoy while experimenting with new ones; feel free to mix it up. For example, you can go for a swim on the weekends and go for a run a few days during the week. Remember the little things add up too! Participating in your regular day-to-day activities like walking to the grocery store or moving around the house while cleaning is still movement that your body craves.
Always check first with your doctor before you begin any exercise program. This is especially true if you have heart trouble or have had a heart attack, if you’re over age 50 and are not used to being physically active. If you have a family history of heart disease at an early age, or if you have any other serious health problems, please contact your physician before beginning any exercise program.