The American Heart Association focuses on 7 elements to improve your quality of life, maintain heart health, and lower the risks of heart disease and stroke. The first of the seven is GET ACTIVE.
Move it to win!
The bottom line is it takes at least 30 minutes daily of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, five times a week, to increase your quality of life and lower the risks of heart disease and stroke. Moderate exertion keeps your heart muscle strong and healthy, helps you burn more calories (control weight), and control cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure. Your mental health will be affected, too. When people exercise, they have better moods, less stress, more energy and feel more positive.
Ready, Get Set, Go!
Plan your time to exercise and then do it. If you like to watch TV, find a gym with TV and watch it there. Exercise at the same time everyday, so it is part of your routine.
Walking is a great place to start. You can do 2 miles in 30 minutes. Give yourself a goal of walking to the mall or to church or to the library. Find out how far it is, and walk that distance in your neighborhood or on a treadmill over the course of days until you reach the goal. Then, take yourself to the library or mall as a treat! Or, start with a goal of time or a number of steps. Make it work for yourself.
Do you hate exercise?
For some people, the answer is an emphatic “yes.” If you’re that person, you may be in the group of people who view exercise literally as torture. Iowa State University researchers found sedentary people have a very low threshold for exertion and need to build up to even something as basic as walking. When you reach your own personal physical capacity for exertion, the body becomes stressed and you feel bad. This stress happens very quickly for the sedentary and much more slowly for elite athletes. Experts recommend you use tricks to give yourself positive exercise experiences and slowly increase your threshold. For example:
- Take small steps to begin, start walking in a water track, where your weight will be mostly borne by the water.
- Work out with a friend and have fun while you exercise.
- Do more of something you know how to do, such as dancing. Exercise doesn’t necessarily have to be in a gym.
- Shift your reality to the TV or music on your iPod. Taking your focus off the exercise can help you do more for longer.
Exercise can be the habit that makes your life worth living because it keeps the chronic heart condition at bay! Age and ability appropriate exercise is part of the Balanced Care Method, which is the whole person wellness approach we use with our clients to help them thrive.
Sources: The American Heart Association and Hard-Wired to Hate Exercise, from the Wall Street Journal, Feb 19, 2013.