Cardiovascular Exercise Tips to Ensure a Healthy Heart
Article by Paula Fitzgerald
Exercise is very important for optimal heart health. But what type of exercise should you do? And how much time do you need to spend exercising each day to get those heart health benefits? In August of 2007, the latest recommendations for adult physical activity were published. These recommendations set specific goals about the types and amount of activity that promotes good health.
When it comes to what type of activity counts as heart healthy exercise, the most important factors are intensity and duration – how hard you work at the activity and how long you perform the activity.
Healthy adults should exercise on many days of the week. For activities of moderate intensity, at least 30 minutes on five days each week is recommended. If the activity is of vigorous intensity, at least 20 minutes on three days each week are recommended.
Moderate intensity activity accelerates the heart rate. An example is brisk walking. Vigorous intensity activity causes rapid breathing and a substantial increase in heart rate. An example is jogging.
Activities that ‘count’ toward the exercise goal require more intensity than simple activities of daily living like showering, doing the dishes, walking from your car, grocery shopping, or taking out the trash. Also, the activity should be performed for at least ten minutes.
Some daily living activities can be counted toward the exercise goal and often helps people achieve their goals of reaching a healthy weight. Walking to work or school counts if you walk briskly and the trip is 10 minutes or more each way. Household chores count if they are of moderate intensity, i.e., requires lifting or repetitive movements, and last for at least 10 minutes. Examples are gardening with a shovel, mowing with a push mower, general carpentry, and heavy cleaning.
Other activities and exercises that are considered moderate intensity are brisk walking, biking with light effort (10-12 mph), dancing, leisurely swimming, sports such as doubles tennis, golf (walking with clubs), and noncompetitive volleyball and shooting baskets.
Vigorous intensity activities include jogging and running, hiking, shoveling, biking with moderate effort or fast biking (14-16 mph), cross-country skiing, moderate or hard swimming, singles tennis, and games of soccer or competitive volleyball and basketball.
Moderate and vigorous intensity activities can be combined to meet the exercise goal. For example, these three weekly exercise plans can all meet the current exercise goals:
1. Walk for 30 minutes a day (3 mph) on 5 days of the week.2. Jog for 20 minutes (5 mph) on 3 days of the week.3. Walk for 30 minutes on 2 days and jog for 20 minutes on 2 days of the week.
Muscle strengthening exercise is also recommended. Perform 8-10 exercises on major muscle groups at least twice per week. Weight training, weight-bearing calisthenics, stair climbing and other resistance exercises count toward the goal. When strength training, perform repetitions (8-12) until the muscle(s) being exercised feel fatigued.
These goals represent the minimum amount of physical activity for healthy adults aged 18-65. A greater level of physical fitness and additional health benefits can be achieved if activity above this minimum amount is performed each week. There’s a tangible correlation between exercise and heart disease, which is something to remember. Simply getting the heart rate up for a half hour will do wonders for the cardiovascular system.
About the Author
Paula Fitzgerald writes about heart health for HeartMart.com. She is a nutritional expert and author who regularly shares insights about heart healthy diets, effective cardiovascular exercise routines, and dietary supplements. Learn about heart health from F