Exercise More to Boost Heart Health

Author: Shannon Miller

You might be surprised to learn the results of a recent research study.

Most of us already know that exercise is important for heart health. But what about diet? Will cutting calories yield the same-or even better-results? Not quite, according to this research.

When it comes to lowering your risk of dying from heart disease, exercising more may be better than eating less. That’s according to a 17-year study recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Lack of Exercise or Being Overweight, Obese Impacts Heart Disease Risk

From 1971 to 1975, researchers looked at the lifestyles of 9,790 Americans. They recorded calorie intake, exercise habits, and body mass index (BMI)-the amount you weigh in relation to how tall you are. Researchers then studied the participants for 17 years after 1975. After adjusting for BMI, physical activity, and other factors, they found that there was no significant link between high calorie intake and cardiovascular disease-related death. But lack of exercise was independently associated with dying from heart disease, as was being either overweight or obese.

Start Your Physical Activity with Something Easy

If you’re not used to being physically active, start with something easy, and gradually build your endurance. Walking is one of the best exercises. It can give you more energy and reduce stress.

Here are ways to start:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Take a walk after dinner.
  • Park the car farther away from wherever you’re going.
  • In bad weather, walk around a mall.
  • Get off the bus one stop early.
  • Visit fun places, such as the zoo or aquarium. You’ll walk for hours and not even realize it.

If you’re a beginner, start by walking 10 minutes a day, three days a week. As you grow more fit, slowly increase your pace, how long you exercise, and how often. The ideal amount? At least 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity on most or all days of the week.

For Best Results, Add Some Strength Training to Your Routine

It helps to build muscle and bone, protect you from injuries, and burn more calories even while you’re resting. Strength training includes:

  • push-ups,
  • sit-ups,
  • lifting weights,
  • using resistance bands.
Be sure to consult your doctor on how to perform a strength training routine safely.

Courtesy of Baptist Health – Jacksonville, Florida

If you found this article helpful, you might also want to read this related Shannon Miller Lifestyle article: Cut the Salt to Help Your Heart

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