Five Helpful Tips to Keep You Moving
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Lectures, group discussions and interactive sessions will help you learn stress management skills, including yoga, meditation, and communication styles.
The sessions meet Mondays and Wednesdays, May 1–24, 5:00–7:00 p.m. in Bridgeport Hospital’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Unit.
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The Real Magic Elixir for Total Body Health
It sounds like an old-fashioned medicine show spiel for a magic elixir: "Step right up, folks! How would you like to lower your risk for developing heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and some types of cancer? What if I told you about a treatment that can increase your bone density, enhance your immune system, reduce the number or the dosage of medications you take, help you lose weight and ward off depression and anxiety, and generally retard the aging process. This program is so amazing that it will also enhance your sex life, reduce stress, and improve your sleep patterns. It takes a time commitment of only 40 minutes per day on most days, and after you begin it and start feeling better, you will want to continue it for the rest of your life!"
But it's not a magic elixir. And it does truly work. It’s good old-fashioned cardiovascular exercise.
Exercise is one of the least expensive and most effective heart health therapies, and it’s suitable for just about anyone. And yet, fewer than 25% of adults are getting the recommended 40 minutes of physical actively five or more days per week.
Keep it safe and start slowly
No matter how old or how out of shape you are, you will see positive improvements in your health almost immediately after beginning an exercise program. The key is to start slowly and be consistent. Remember what the tortoise says: "Slow and steady wins the race."
But be careful. Before you start working out, if you are a man over age 45 or a woman over age 55 you should visit your physician to rule out any hidden cardiac, diabetes, or bone/muscle conditions. Heart problems can flare up when you have underlying, untreated cardiac conditions, have not been exercising regularly, and then overdo it with vigorous activity. However, if you exercise sensibly and get your physician’s OK, the benefits of exercise far outweigh the possible risks.
Exercises to Improve Your Cardiovascular Health
Any exercise that moves large muscle groups and gets your heart beating faster will improve your cardiovascular system. Examples: walking, biking, swimming, water aerobics, raking, tennis, dancing, or using aerobic machines at the gym. Try different things like joining a community exercise class or walking at the mall to keep your exercise program varied and fun.
The FIT Excercise Prescription for Your Heart
FIT is a simple formula to help you exercise sensibly.
F is for Frequency: 3–5 times per week
You need to exercise only 3–5 days per week. Exercising every day will put you at greater risk for athletic injuries. You can receive health benefits by burning up as few as 700 calories per week, but you'll achieve the most benefits when you expend 2,000 calories or more per week. The average person burns roughly 100 calories per mile, which translates into walking or running 7–20 miles per week. If this seems daunting, just remember that no matter where you start, you can reach your goal if you keep at it.
I is for Intensity: Moderate to Somewhat Hard
Working at moderate intensity will give you the best results and reduce your risk of injury. You've reached moderate intensity if you can breathe through your nose, talk but not sing, feel your body temperature rise and begin to sweat. You should not be gasping for a breath.
T Is for Time: 40–60 minutes overall
You should work up to and maintain an exercise plan that lasts 40–60 minutes. This includes a 5–minute warm-up, a 30–40–minute cardiovascular workout, and a 5–10 minute cool-down. Drinking water before, during and after exercise will keep you hydrated and help keep your blood pressure in the correct range if you are on cardiac medications. Cool-downs are very important. You should gradually bring your heart rate down by moving at a lower intensity than your workout pace. Do some stretching exercises at the end of your cool-down. Stretching helps to loosen tight muscles, extends your range of motion, and improves your posture and balance.
Five Helpful Tips to Keep You Moving
Keep in mind that something is better than nothing, so if you can't do a full exercise session, just do as much as you have time for.
- Exercise with a friend. You’ll keep each other motivated and the time will fly by if you have company.
- Exercise in the morning. Your daily calendar is probably pretty empty early in the morning and exercise will give you a jolt of energy to help you through the day.
- Cross train. Try different types of exercises on different days. For example: walk with a friend on Monday, take a dance class on Wednesday night, and try pool aerobics on another day.
- Keep a log of your exercise program listing what you did and for how long. Include your weight and body measurements, and keep track of your success!
- Be sure to invest in a good pair of athletic shoes and appropriate clothing for the exercise you’re doing.
If you establish a routine and stick to it, exercise can be like a magic elixir, helping you to reach cardiac health!