Can Moderate Exercise Improve Cardiovascular Health?

Posted on March 15, 2017

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Everyone knows exercise and physical activity are good for your heart. But how much do you really have to exercise to reap those heart-healthy benefits? Does having a healthy heart mean you need to commit to hours of grueling cardio workouts every day? Or can you still improve your heart health - and even prevent heart disease - with a moderate amount of activity? Here’s the scoop:

Activity for Cardiovascular Health

According to the American Heart Association, a moderate level of physical activity and exercise is great for improving your heart health. Under their guidelines, that means 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week - and though that may sound like a lot at first, it breaks down into 30 minutes a day, five days per week, a pretty easy-to-manage goal for just about anyone, no matter how physically fit you may (or may not) be. If you prefer, you can even split your exercise into 10- or 15-minute sessions, performed two or three times a day - like maybe before and after work and during your lunch break. Or if you’re already pretty active and fit, you could “double up” and opt for 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity (that’s 25 minutes of vigorous activity, three days per week) to get the same benefits as 150 minutes of moderate exercise.

So what counts as moderate and vigorous aerobic exercise? Here are some basic examples:

Moderate Activity

  • brisk walking (3 mph or faster)
  • bicycling under 10 mph
  • water aerobics
  • gardening
  • tennis (doubles)
  • ballroom dancing

Vigorous Activity

  • jogging or race-walking
  • swimming laps
  • tennis (singles)
  • bicycling 10 mph or faster
  • uphill hiking or hiking with a heavy backpack
  • jumping rope

 

If you really want to boost the health benefits of your workout, the AHA also recommends adding a moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity to your workout at least two days each week. And if you want to take steps to lower high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels (and reduce your risks of heart attack and stroke), the AHA recommends ramping up your routine to include about 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity three to four times per week.

How healthy is your heart?

The AHA advises routine heart health screenings beginning at age 20, with more frequent screenings for those who have risk factors for heart disease. To schedule your heart health screening or to find out more about our cardiology services, call Peconic Bay Medical Center.

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