Exercise and Heart Health

ExerciseExercise! Some people love it and some hate it. But staying active is a vital ingredient in the recipe for health. Exercise does many things for us:

  1. It helps us control our weight.
  2. It reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. (Lowers blood pressure and LDL cholesterol while increasing HDL cholesterol)
  3. It reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
  4. It reduces the risk of some cancers.
  5. It strengthens bones and muscles.
  6. It can improve your mood and mental health by reducing anxiety and depression.
  7. It helps reduce stress and improve sleep.
  8. It can reduce fall risk in older individuals.
  9. It can improve health and longevity.
  10. It can give you more energy and make you feel better.

If exercise came in pill form, everyone would be taking it. But it is not that difficult to reap the benefits of exercise by slowly incorporating it into your daily activities. Walk as much as you can during the course of your day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Take a walk during lunch. Wear a pedometer or fitness tracker to help you monitor your progress. Incorporate some weight lifting to strengthen your upper body. Start slow and gradually increase as tolerated. Over time you will notice a difference in how you feel and you will be able to do more and more. Working with a qualified personal trainer can help you learn to exercise without getting hurt. Many gyms, fitness or wellness centers have someone on staff available to help you. Start at a pace that feels right for you but challenge yourself every day to do a little more. As your fitness level improves, get involved in activities that you like such as hiking, biking, swimming, sports or running. If you do not enjoy exercise, you will not stick with it. Find a fitness partner that will keep you accountable. It is always more fun to do things with a friend and healthy competition can be a good thing. Try to get at least 30 minutes a day 6 days a week. Feel free to take a day off for rest. If you are trying to lose weight or maintain weight loss, you may need 60 minutes a day. Exercise does not have to be intense to be effective. A moderate amount of exercise may be better for you as long as you are being consistent. If you miss a day, start back the next day. Exercise is as much as habit as anything else so make it a priority. The benefits are worth it and you will thank yourself when you are older for taking care of your body. Now, let’s go warm up those muscles. 🙂

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