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.
Regular exercise has many health benefits, including preventing or controlling 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 sedentary and haven’t exercised for many years, you can start by breaking your 30 minutes into shorter periods of 10 minutes each to make it more manageable. If it’s already a “workout,” try adding an extra 1 minute to your workout every day for added benefit.
Common chores around the house can count as moderate-level activity, along with playing more of your favorite sports. Here are some examples:
• Washing and waxing of a car for 45-60 minutes
• Window or floor washing for 45 to 60 minutes
• Gardening for 30-45 minutes
• Push a stroller 1½ miles in 30 minutes
• Rake the leaves for 30 minutes
• Shovel snow for 15 minutes
• Climb stairs for 15 minutes
• Play volleyball for 45-60 minutes
• Play touch football for 45 minutes
• Walk 2 miles in 30 minutes (1 mile in 15 minutes)
• Shooting baskets (basketball) for 30 minutes
• Fast dance (social) for 30 minutes
• Perform water aerobics for 30 minutes
• Swimming time for 20 minutes
• Play basketball for 15-20 minutes
• Jump rope for 15 minutes
• Run 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 swimming on the weekends and go for a run on certain days during the week. Remember that the little things also add up! Participating in your usual daily activities, such as walking to the grocery store or moving around the house while cleaning, is still a movement your body craves.
Always check with your doctor first before beginning any exercise program. This is especially true if you have heart problems or have had a heart attack, if you are over 50 years old and are not used to physical activity. If you have a family history of heart disease at a young age or if you have other serious health problems, contact your doctor before beginning any exercise program.