woman doing exercises for a healthy heartWe’ll start with the bad news first: Only one in five of us get the proper amount of exercise to stay healthy.

The good news? There’s no time like the present to change that – February is American Heart Month.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends in the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition that adults and teens get at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise per week.

A less-active lifestyle can increase the risk of developing many health conditions, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
  • Poor sleep patterns
  • Reduced cognitive abilities
  • Feelings of depression, anxiety

Moderate Activity is Better than Nothing

Even the most sedentary people can make strides in their heart health by sitting less and participating in moderate physical activity. Any exercise that raises your heart rate can boost your cardio fitness levels – even a five-minute walk several times a day will add up.

Moderate-level activities include:

  • Walking at a brisk pace (at least 2.5 miles per hour)
  • Playing doubles tennis
  • Riding a bicycle (slower than 10 miles per hour)
  • Gardening

Vigorous Activity Shows Results Faster

If you’re healthy enough for a more strenuous workout plan, intensifying the activity can help your body achieve a higher level of fitness. Examples of vigorous activity include:

  • Running
  • Swimming laps
  • Jumping rope
  • Playing singles tennis
  • Hiking on challenging, uphill trails

Just remember, there’s no time like the present to get up and start moving. Your heart is depending on you!

Southeastern Med reminds you to consult with your doctor before you begin to ramp up your exercise levels.