Start sweating for heart health

High blood pressure, obesity and diabetes are three major risks factors contributing to heart disease. Another factor is lack of physical activity. A recent study suggests that sitting for long durations is not healthy. According to the Canadian study, people who sit are more likely to have health issues such as heart attacks. The general population does understand that exercise can positively affect those factors and in turn, the health of your heart.

Physical activity, not just formal fitness or sports, is integral to maintain a strong heart and good health. It is recommended to exercise or get physical activity approximately 150 minutes per week. Vigorous exercise is more beneficial for heart health, but a moderate level is a safe place to start.

If you are fit and healthy and currently exercising, keep up the good work and include more general physical activity. If you have been sedentary or inactive for a long time, are currently overweight and/or have a family history of coronary heart disease, then it certainly is important to exercise and be more active. The American Heart Association Web site has a Physical Activity Heart Health Quiz (www.americanheart.org) that guides you quickly through eight questions. You may be surprised by some of the answers. For instance, women who do not exercise are twice as likely as women who do to die of heart disease. Often times the hardest part is getting started. Here are some tips to put you on the right path toward heart health:

• Dress comfortably and weather-appropriate. Natural fibers (layered) are often a safe bet.

• Choose movement that you enjoy. Walking, dancing and swimming are enjoyable forms of recreation for some that happen to be good cardiovascular exercises.

• Do not work to exhaustion. You should be able to “walk and talk.”

• Change up your routine periodically. Boredom can put any exercise routine to a dead stop.

• Stand when you can. If you are on a conference call stand and walk.

• If you are at a desk most of the day take a 5-minute stretching or walking break every few hours.

• Take the stairs.

• Give your chair up in a meeting or a waiting room.

• Participate in a non-competitive walk/run for a charitable cause.

• Take dance lessons. This can be done solo or with a partner.

• Take advantage of the aisles in the mall and the grocery store.

• Keep a record of your activities and the gratitude it may bring.

Seek guidance from a certified personal trainer or fitness center to learn safe and effective exercises. Consult your physician before beginning a physical activity program.

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