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Regular exercise is the single most important key to heart health. 1 And it is free!

Not only does exercise make you fit, give you more self-confidence and decrease your stress and anxiety levels, but it also has numerous cardiovascular benefits. 2

Cardiovascular benefits of exercise 2

  • Promotes weight reduction
  • Can help reduce blood pressure
  • Decreases total and “bad” LDL-cholesterol
  • Increases “good” or HDL-cholesterol
  • Improves insulin function (for optimal glucose control)
  • Improves blood vessel function

How much exercise is enough?

The World Health Organisation and numerous international guidelines recommend that all adults engage in: 2-4

  • Moderate* exercise per day at least 5 days per week, examples include:
    • water aerobics
    • ballroom dancing
    • moderate swimming
    • cycling (< 16 km/h)
    • walking briskly
    • tennis doubles
    • horseback riding
    • leisurely canoeing 5
  • Vigorous** exercise per day at least 5 days per week, example include:
    • skipping
    • aerobics
    • swimming competitively
    • cycling (³ 16 km/h)
    • hiking uphill
    • intense gardening (hoeing, digging)
    • jogging
    • running
    • canoeing
    • tennis singles
    • mountain biking 5

* 30 minutes of accumulated activity i.e. repeated intermittent or shorter bouts of activity (10 minutes x 3 during the day) will have similar cardiovascular and other health benefits 2

** Any activity similar in intensity to brisk walking at a rate of 5-6,5 km/hour (600 to 1200 calories per week) 2

Simple (and free) ways to increase your exercise level

  • Choose the stairs over the escalator or lift at work, malls or flats
  • Take your dogs for a daily walk
  • Do your own gardening
  • Play soccer in the park with your kids
  • Do your own housework
  • Park your car in the far corner of parking lot
  • Wash your car manually
  • Walk to the shops to get milk and bread

References: 1. Cleveland Clinic. 21 Facts About Your Heart. [Online] 2015 Nov 17 [cited Jan 20]. Available from: URL: 2. Myers J. Exercise and Cardiovascular Health. Circulation 2003;107:e2-e5. 3. World Health Organization. Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health. [Online] 2011 [cited 2018 Jan 19]. Available from: URL: 4. Piepoli MF, Hoes AW, Agewall S, Albus C, Brotons C, Catapano AL, et al. 2016 European Guidelines on cardiovascular disease prevention in clinical practice: The Sixth Joint Task Force of the European Society of Cardiology and Other Societies on Cardiovascular Disease Prevention in Clinical Practice (constituted by representatives of 10 societies and by invited experts). Eur Heart J 2016;37:2315-2381. 5. Lanier JB, Bury DC, Richardson SW. Diet and Physical Activity for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention. Am Fam Physician 2016;93(11):919-924.


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