Why do we fight exercising?

If you want to be healthy, including heart healthy, you’ve got to move your body.

Physical activity will help your heart in so many ways, not only in making the heart pump itself stronger and more efficient in doing its job (thus working smarter, not harder), exercise will also benefit your heart by:

  • improving circulation
  • decreasing stress levels and the production of stress hormones
  • regulating blood pressure
  • increasing HDL or “good” cholesterol
  • strengthening the immune system that fights pathogens and disease

And this list doesn’t begin to touch on the benefits to your mind, body composition (fat to muscle), and bones.

The American Heart Association guidelines for heart health recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination), or 30 minutes a day, five times a week. What does this mean? It means performing any activity that is rhythmic and can be sustained, such as walking, running, swimming, biking, dancing, jumping on a trampoline–you get the idea. The AHA further states that the 30 minutes can be accumulated throughout the day. Note that these are guidelines for a healthy heart, and that there are different guidelines for fitness gains.

Used to doing nothing?  Start with something. Make one small change. Walk 10 minutes today. Make it a habit and gradually increase the time spent doing your exercise activity. Explore options for activities you’ve never tried, like a bollywood dance class, and for sharing activity with others, like starting a walking club before or after work.

The damage of a sedentary life is cumulative–today, 1 in 3 Americans have some form of cardiovascular disease–but the benefits of exercise are also cumulative. Start right now and make movement a happy part of every day.