I’m asked almost daily to explain (prove, really!) how physical activity can become your way of life.
It’s usually because they don’t believe it can happen, at least not for them, confirmed couch potatoes, but I get it.
Whether you are a Diabetic or have a cardiac condition and aren’t in the habit of being physically active, you’re probably being told you should start.
If you have risk factors for either of those conditions, start now. The sooner the better. It can literally save your life.
That’s because regular physical activity manages your blood sugar and significantly reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke.
It also helps you eliminate or manage other risk factors such as:
But the benefits don’t stop there.
- You will look good
- Feel better
- Become stronger and more flexible
- Reduce stress and tension.
The next question is usually So…How do I start?
- Start slowly — don’t overdo it (try Yoga to improve your flexibility and much more)
- Choose activities you enjoy.
- Pick a start date that fits your schedule and gives you enough time to begin your program. (Walking is a great way to get started!)
- Wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
- Try to exercise at the same time each day so it becomes a regular part of your lifestyle.
- Drink water before, during and after each exercise session.
- Use the buddy system! Ask a friend to start a program with you.
- Note the days you exercise and write down the distance or length of time of your workout and how you feel after each session.
Next, I get this question: How long should I exercise? (It’s usually more like “How long do I HAVE TO exercise..)
- Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity, aerobic exercise each week.
- If you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, aim for at least 40 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity at least 3 to 4 days a week.
- If you miss a day, plan a make-up day.
Then, I’m asked some variation of “What will keep me going?”
➡ Get your family or friends into physical activity! It’s great to have a support system, and you’ll be getting them into an important health habit.
➡ Join an exercise group, health club or local community center.
➡ Choose an activity you like and make sure it’s convenient for you. If you need good weather, have a backup plan for bad days (e.g., when it rains, walk in the mall instead of the park).
➡ Learn a new sport you think you might enjoy or take lessons to improve at one you know.
Do a variety of activities. Take a brisk walk one day, a swim the next time. Then go for a bike ride on the weekend!
- Make physical activity a routine so it becomes a habit.
- If you stop for any length of time, don’t lose hope! Just get started again and work up to your old pace.
What else should I know?
➡ Try not to compare yourself to others. Your goal should be personal health and fitness.
➡ Think about whether you like to exercise alone or with other people, outside or inside, what time of day is best, and what kind of exercise you most enjoy doing (or not mind too much! 😀 )
➡ If you feel like quitting, remind yourself of all the reasons you started. Also, think about how far you’ve come.
➡ Don’t push yourself too hard. You should be able to talk during moderate exercise.
Do you have questions for your doctor or nurse?
Take a few minutes to write down your questions before your next office visit. For example:
Here’s how you can learn more:
- Call 1-800-AHA-USA1 (1-800-242-8721), or visit heart.org to learn more about heart disease and stroke.
- Sign up to get Heart Insight, a free magazine for heart patients and their families, at heartinsight.org.
Connect with others sharing similar journeys with heart disease and stroke by joining our Support Network at heart.org/supportnetwork.
Follow my ©Fit For Heart Life Program on this website, find it on the menu on the right side of any page…Here are some articles to help you get started.