Being active is key to having a healthy heart. A great goal is aiming to be active in as many ways as possible throughout the day and reduce the amount of sitting for long periods.
Doing just 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day, even in 10 minute chunks, can help to reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes as well as reducing your risk of developing a stroke and high blood pressure.
Along with healthy eating and not smoking, physical activity improves heart health by preventing heart disease as well as helping you to recover if you have had a heart event. For information on staying active with heart disease visit our website firststeps.hearthelp.org.nz for some great information about excercise tailored specifically towards people who have had a heart attack.
Your heart is a muscle and needs exercise to help keep it fit so that it can pump blood efficiently around your body. Without regular physical activity, the body slowly loses its strength, stamina and ability to function well.
Lifelong physical activity, such as a brisk walk for as little as 30 minutes a day, is important for:
For each hour of regular exercise you get, you’ll gain about two hours of additional life expectancy, even if you don’t start until middle age!
It’s never too late to start. Everyone can benefit from moving more – whatever your age, size or physical condition. The good news is that inactive people that start to do moderate physical activity feel the biggest health benefits – your health risks will decrease as soon as you start to move!
Getting started is easier than you think. Changing a few daily habits can soon add up to a more active you. Be active in as many ways as possible every day. Every 10 minutes counts. And if you don’t think you can squeeze anything else into your day, see if you can reduce the time you spend sitting still and free up time to be active.
Walking is a great option. Nearly everyone can do it, and all you need is a pair of shoes. You could go swimming, take exercise classes or play a sport, but physical activity also includes everyday things like gardening and climbing stairs.
Remember, any increase in physical activity will be good for your health. You’ll get added benefits by including activities that help strengthen muscles twice a week, such as exercising with weights, working with resistance bands, heavy gardening or carrying shopping.
You should aim to build up to a total of 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate intensity activity each week. Moderate intensity activity will make you feel warmer, breathe harder and make your heart beat faster than usual, but you should still be able to carry on a conversation.
Many health problems can be helped by regular physical activity, but if you do have a health problem, or have a condition that you are taking prescribed medication for, you should check the amount and type of activity that is suitable for you with your GP.
The best way to tell if the exercise you are doing is working is to take the talk test. Watch the video below to see what the talk test is.