Living Heart Healthy

Exercise for Life

Daily routines of Americans often include sitting at a desk or riding in a car for hours, making it easy to fall into an altogether inactive lifestyle. Approximately 60 percent of all Americans age 18 and older report that they are physically inactive, and about one-third of U.S. adults are obese. Thirty-five percent of all deaths in the U.S. are caused by coronary heart disease. Many of these deaths could be prevented with exercise and a healthy diet.

Exercise in today’s culture has to be intentional. Making the decision to become physically active benefits not only a person’s heart health, but his or her overall well-being. It just takes the determination to get started. The American Heart Association recommends that individuals get either 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week, or a combination of both for 30 minutes a day, five days per week.

To maximize health benefits, a person should exercise at a moderate or vigorous level. Moderate exercise activities in-clude walking, climbing stairs, gardening, yard work, moderate-to-heavy housework, dancing and home exercise. More vigorous exercise activities include brisk walking, running, swimming, bicycling, roller skating and jumping rope.

Regular physical activity or anything that gets the body moving and burns calories reduces the risk of dying prematurely from cardiovascular disease. It also helps to prevent the development of diabetes, maintain weight loss and reduce hypertension.

elderly couple running

Exercise Intensity

Exercise intensity is reflected in how hard the heart has to work. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are two ways to measure exercise intensity:

Perceived Exertion:

Exercise intensity can be measured by how hard physical activity feels. Studies show that perceived exertion correlates well with heart rate. If you think you’re working hard, it’s likely that your heart rate is elevated.

Heart Rate:

For an adult, a normal resting heart rate ranges from 60 to 100 beats a minute. For a well-trained athlete, a normal resting heart rate may be closer to 40 beats a minute. You gain the most benefits when you exercise in your target heart rate zone. A target exercise heart rate is 60 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate, and it can be calculated by subtracting your age from 220. To measure your heart rate, simply check your pulse. With your palm facing upward, place two fingers on the thumb side of your wrist, or place your index and third fingers on your neck to the side of your windpipe. When you feel your pulse, count the number of beats in 10 seconds. Then multiply this number by six to determine how many times your heart beats in one minute.

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