Exercise includes more than football, bike riding or doing a high energy aerobics class. Any kind of physical activity – such as mowing the lawn or playing Frisbee in the park is beneficial exercise.
So what’s so good about exercise?
Many studies have found that moderate levels of exercise, are particularly beneficial for improving risk factors associated with heart disease. These include:
decreasing blood pressure (both systolic and diastolic)
reducing total and LDL cholesterol
increasing the beneficial HDL cholesterol
helping control body weight (being overweight or obese increases the chance of heart disease), and
decreasing the chance of having a heart attack.
It is important to note that exercise does not have to be vigorous, like running a mile, doing a high energy aerobics class, or playing squash. Any form of movement, such as walking, vacuuming or lawn mowing, is beneficial. BUT – the exercise must be regular! Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days of the week.
You may say there just isn’t enough time in the day to fit in 30 minutes of exercise. Well, the good news is that small amounts (eg 15 minutes) of more strenuous exercise accumulated over the day, is beneficial.
So, let’s get active!
Choose an activity that is the most practical, achievable and likely to be the mostenjoyable for you! This may involve tennis, jogging, walking, bike riding, swimming or using an exercise bike at home.
Increase the amount of ‘incidental exercise’ in your day. This is the type of movement you do as part of your normal routine which you don’t have to think about doing. Try:
using the stairs instead of the lift / escalator
walking to the station or shops
parking further away from the shops at the shopping centre
getting off the bus 1 stop early and walking the rest
at work, take 10 minutes at lunch time for a short walk
take your dog for a walk
take the kids or grandkids to play in the park
try ballroom or line dancing at a local club
join a local walking or sports club.
It is important to firstly have a Doctor’s checkup and then start out on an exercise program slowly, if you haven’t exercised for a while. Also, drink plenty of water before, during and after you exercise to prevent dehydration.
So, enjoy the benefits of regular exercise – you will feel better and enjoy better health!
Remember that not smoking and having a healthy diet are also important lifestyle factors, for reducing the risk of heart disease.
This article was prepared by the nutritionists at Sanitarium Nutrition Service.