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Heart Disease Prevention - Designing an Exercise Program

How to design an exercise program:

Picture of a man exercising on a stationary bicycle

Exercise is essential to maintaining health and can also improve your overall sense of well-being. Even low-to-moderate intensity activities for as little as 30 minutes a day can be beneficial. These activities may include:

  • Pleasure walking
  • Climbing stairs
  • Gardening
  • Yard work
  • Moderate-to-heavy housework
  • Dancing
  • Home exercise

However, more vigorous aerobic activities, done three or four times a week for 30 to 60 minutes, are best for improving the fitness of the heart and lungs. Regular, aerobic physical activity increases a person's capacity for exercise and plays a role in prevention of cardiovascular diseases and even certain cancers. Aerobic exercise may also help to lower blood pressure.

These activities may include:

  • Brisk walking
  • Running
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Roller skating
  • Jumping rope

Benefits from regular exercise or physical activity:

Picture of a family, wearing helmets, rollerblading

According to the American Heart Association, the following are key benefits of physical activity:

  • Improves blood circulation throughout the body
  • Keeps weight under control
  • Improves blood cholesterol levels
  • Prevents and manages high blood pressure
  • Prevents bone loss
  • Boosts energy level
  • Releases tension
  • Improves the ability to fall asleep quickly and sleep well
  • Improves self-image
  • Helps manage stress
  • Counters anxiety and depression
  • Increases enthusiasm and optimism
  • Increases muscle strength

A daily exercise program can provide a way to share an activity with family and friends, while helping establish good heart-healthy habits. For children, daily exercise deters conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, poor cholesterol levels, and poor lifestyle habits that lead to heart attack and stroke later in life. For older people, daily physical activity helps delay or prevent chronic illnesses and diseases associated with aging, and maintains quality of life and independence longer.

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