What Exercise is Right for Me?


by the Go Red For Women Editors

Exercise is essential to living heart-healthy. Why? “Our bodies were designed to be physically active, and they don’t do well with long-term exposure to sedentary living. Lack of physical activity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease,” says Russell Pate, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Exercise at the University of South Carolina.

In fact, according to the American Heart Association’s 2013 exercise standards, “Exercise can be viewed as a preventative medical treatment, ‘like a pill’ that should be taken on an almost daily basis.”

Physical activity recommendations

How much exercise do you need? The AHA recommends the following amounts of physical activity to maintain cardiovascular health:

For Overall Cardiovascular Health

  • At least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week for a total of 150 minutes.


  • At least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week for a total of 75 minutes; or a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.


  • Moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days per week for additional health benefits.

For Lowering Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

  • An average 40 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity 3 or 4 times per week.

Physical activity and calories

There are numerous ways you can exercise every day. Help determine what exercise is right for you using the following information on calories burned by type of workout.


Walking, jogging and running

Do you want to start jogging or running but don’t think you can motivate yourself? Dr. Deborah Rohm Young, vice chair of the AHA’s Physical Activity Subcommittee, encourages women to start by setting small goals. Begin by walking 15 minutes four times per week, Young suggests. “You can experience an increased sense of wellbeing almost immediately,” she says. “From there, you can have more energy to do other things.”

More ways to workout

Almost any physical activity is better than none for your heart. Learn more ways to exercise to determine the type(s) of physical activity that suit you best:

Learn more heart healthy exercises on Go Red For Women.


  • phyllis Morris

    I own a exercise bike, tony little gazelle and a total fit gym. I have to have total knee replacements my obesity destroyed them. I was once and athlete, Miss Airforce 1968, ran track and field in Tokyo Japan in the 60’s an won many races. I marched in civil air patrol and trained and I also marched in about 13 years as a dancer. majorette in Mardi gras parades. Now I am, a 64 obese woman still trying to search my goals, ans am fighting to stay alive and well mentally and physically. I have never smoked, I do not drink alcohol , never have except on my 18 birthday. I do not have any family or friends that smoke except my daughter and she lived in New Orleans. I wish she would quit. I am on no medication at all. and never have taken street drugs and never weed. Basically I suppose I am on the right track.

  • Helen Akinc

    Indoor rowing is a great alternative for exercise. It’s very efficient in that one can get cardio, strength, and toning all in the same workout. I found that it promotes flexibility in my back and legs. It is a terrific overall workout. If done correctly, lower body is exercised if not equally, than more than upper body. And it does a fantastic job on the core. You can exercise as intensely or as lightly as you wish. And no, I don’t work for an ergometer (indoor rowing machine) company, but I do work out on one every other day in addition to walking and biking. My cardiologists are great with it. I wanted to bring attention to it because it is often not used in the gym and rarely mentioned as an alternative in websites. I liked it so much that my husband bought me one for a present. I’m 61 and have had significant cardiac issues. I listen to my body and adjust the intensity according to how I’m feeling.

  • Marie Worrall Marie

    I have mitral valve regurgitation and struggle with exercise especially bending over, I go walking on the beach if I walk 20 minuets I have difficulty walking back even when I have sat down and rested for 20 minutes sometimes it’s caused by fluid retention ( I do take Bp /Duretic tablets ) by the time I get back I am in tears exhausted and breathless, I have found it very debilitating and frustrating NOT being so active ,I go back to see my cardiologist in March. Can you recommend an exercise that I could perhaps manage . Thank you

  • Scherelynn Taylor Scherelynn

    I line dance for 45 minutes on Mondays and Wednesday. On Thursdays I do zumba and strength training. Fridays is Pilate’s I’m working on my Healthy Eating it is a process,but I’m getting there.