After surviving these brutal winter months, most Michiganders will be looking for any opportunity to enjoy warm temperatures, sunny skies and longer daylight hours promised in spring. This April the American Heart Association is encouraging all Michiganders to welcome the spring season with a new exercise routine and commitment to heart health for Physical Activity Month.
Physical activity remains key to preventing heart disease and stroke – the No. 1 and No. 4 killers of all Americans – and is considered anything that makes you move your body and burn calories, such as climbing stairs or playing sports. Aerobic exercises benefit your heart, and include walking, jogging, swimming or biking. Strength and stretching exercises are best for overall stamina and flexibility.
To improve overall cardiovascular health, the association suggests at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity).
For people who would benefit from lowering their blood pressure or cholesterol, the association recommends 40 minutes of aerobic exercise of moderate to vigorous intensity three to four times a week to lower the risk for heart attack and stroke.
Thirty minutes a day, five times a week is an easy goal to remember. Dividing activity time into two or three segments of 10 to 15 minutes per day can still lead to immediate health benefits for working professionals with limited time for traditional exercise in their schedules.
Physical exercise is proven to improve both mental and physical health. Studies show that for every hour of physical activity, life expectancy may increase by 2 hours.
The simplest, positive exercise to effectively improve your heart health is walking. It’s free, easy, social and great exercise. A walking program is flexible and boasts high success rates because people can stick with it and start a routine during the spring season. Find ways to make walking – or any enjoyable form of exercise – a regular and satisfying part of life this spring.
And remember – something is always better than nothing! Everyone has to start somewhere. Even if you’ve been sedentary for years, today is the day you can begin to make healthy changes in your life. If you don’t think you’ll make it for 30 or 40 minutes, set a reachable goal for today. Work up toward your overall goal by increasing your time as you get stronger. Don’t let all-or-nothing thinking rob you of doing what you can every day!
For more information on physical activity and other healthy lifestyle tips, visit: www.heart.org.