A Perfect Pair: Heart Health and Physical Activity

Angela Jenkins

| 3 min read

Image of person walking on a treadmill.
To reduce the risk for heart disease, adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week. Two strength-training sessions per week are also recommended.

America is inactive

In case you don’t know, aerobic activity is the act of moving the body.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 53 percent of American adults meet the guidelines for aerobic physical activity. Only 23.5 percent meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity.

Get moving

Just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week not only reduces your risk of heart disease, but also reduces the risk of stroke, high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, colon cancer and other medical problems.
During moderate physical activity, you should be able to speak to someone and be just a bit out of breath — not totally panting, but not your normal breathing rate either. This is the minimum recommendation of intensity. You should notice a slight elevation of your heart rate as well.

Start a walking routine

If you’ve been inactive, start with the basics. Walking is a great way to meet physical activity requirements. While the winter months may make it harder to walk, there are plenty of indoor spots to get your steps in. Since walking is a great way to incorporate physical activity, here are some walking-related suggestions to get you started:
  • Take a walk instead of watching TV
  • Walk during your lunch hour
  • Take a walk after dinner
  • Walk your kids to or from school (or both)
  • Walk the dog instead of letting them outside
  • Walk briskly at the mall
  • Walk the perimeter of the grocery store before shopping

Other ideas for physical activity

  • Bike, walk or rollerblade to work
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Park out farther and walk the extra distance to your location
  • Join in your kids’ activity instead of relaxing
  • Carry a shopping basket instead of using a grocery cart
  • Dance
  • Have a walking meeting at work with co-workers instead of sitting in a room
  • Walk to a co-worker’s desk instead of calling or e-mailing them
  • Take the long way to the cafeteria or meeting

More tips to keep moving

  • Have a pair of tennis shoes in your car so you are ready for a walk when the mood strikes
  • Choose a buddy to do these activities with
  • Do a variety of physical activities to prevent boredom
  • Perform sit-ups and/or push-ups during TV commercials
  • Schedule your physical activity on your calendar so you’re not tempted to skip it
Tell us how you plan to increase your physical activity in the comments.
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Photo credit: Diy13

A Healthier Michigan is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
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