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:
- At-home exercises
- Exercises with kids
- Strength training
- Exercises for seniors
- Exercises to increase bone density
Learn more heart healthy exercises on Go Red For Women.