Do you know that nearly 70% of Americans are not getting the physical activity they need to maintain a healthy heart? When you are inactive, you burn fewer calories, you are at higher risk for cholesterol problems, diabetes, and hypertension. Your weight is often harder to manage as well.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity five times a week for adults. Physical activity can dramatically lower your risk for health conditions such as coronary heart disease, cancer, and stroke.
Here are some other advantages to staying active:
- Better mood and less stress – physical activity is a good way to alleviate stress. Consider taking a short walk either during your lunch break or after a long day.
- Positive influence – Remember we are role models for our children. Activities such as walking or playing sports with our children are great ways to remain healthy and stay connected with our children.
- More social – It’s always more fun to workout or play sports with friends. You can also meet new people who are as active as you through these activities.
- Better blood pressure control – Becoming more active can reduce your blood pressure by as much as 4-9 mmHg.
What can you do to be more active? First, commit to putting your health first. You deserve to live a long and healthy life ! Once you’ve decided to start exercising, the next step will be to make the time.
Everyone has busy lives and there never seems to be enough time to complete everything we want to do. So start with small steps. Begin incorporating physical activity into your daily schedule. When you drive to the grocery store or the mall, park further from the entrance than you normally would. Take the stairs instead of the elevator at work.
Remember that if you have any medical conditions, you should consult with your physician about which forms of exercise are best for you. It is also important to discuss any warning signs that you should pay attention to while exercising. For most individuals, an exercise plan can begin with just walking. You can walk within your neighborhood or on a track at your local high school or college. Gradually increase your duration of exercise. Be careful not to overwork yourself. Working out too much or too hard can be harmful.
If you don’t enjoy walking consider taking a tennis lesson, swimming at a local YMCA, yoga, or dancing. Anything that gets you moving and increases your heart rate is a good activity! If you don’t have 30 uninterrupted minutes to exercise, then divide the time into several segments. Consider two 15 minute segments, or three 10-minute segments. The goal is to strive for 30 minutes a day. Remember not to be too hard on yourself. If you miss one day, simply get back on track the following day. The purpose is to make long-term lifestyle changes.
Now let’s start moving and keep our hearts healthy!
Emory Healthcare is a proud sponsor of American Heart Association’s “My Heart. My Life.” campaign that promotes My Life Check –Life’s Simple 7. Getting active is one of the 7 steps to a healthier heart.
Learn more about The Emory Heart & Vascular Center’s Heart Disease Prevention Program.
About Dr. Ijeoma Isiadinso
Dr. Isiadinso is a preventive cardiologist with the Emory Heart & Vascular Center. She specializes in heart disease prevention with special interests in lifestyle modification, cardiovascular risk factor screening, hyperlipidemia, and women’s heart disease. She completed her medical education and training at MCP-Hahnemann School of Medicine and Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, PA before joining Emory in 2010. Dr. Isiadinso is an active member in the development of the Emory Heart and Vascular Center’s Women’s Heart Health Program and is committed to helping women and men live healthy lives.