A Healthy Heart Starts With An Active Lifestyle
By Jess Gomez
Mar 8, 2016
Updated Nov 17, 2023
5 min read
An estimated 500,000 of the 700,000 heart attacks that occur each year in the United States are first-time heart attacks, and many of those are fatal.
Steve Jordan, a heart attack survivor from Salt Lake City, thought the same thing. Although Jordan was overweight, over 50 and not living an active lifestyle, he never thought he would have a heart attack.
“I thought, ‘that won’t happen to me’, but I was wrong,” Jordan said.
In 2012, he had the first of three heart attacks.
“After the first heart attack, I thought, ‘okay there’s definitely no way I’ll have another one,’” said Jordan.
But after two more heart attacks in 2015, Jordan realized it was time to change his lifestyle. Now, committed to improving his heart health, Jordan bikes and runs for 30 minutes each day to keep his heart as healthy – and active – as possible.
“I have a great workout routine to help my heart, but I could’ve avoided it by simply being consistently active,” he now says.
Cardiologists say you, too, can reduce your risk of suffering a heart attack by increasing your daily physical activity.
Kirk Knowlton, MD, a cardiologist at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute, and president of the Western Region of the American Heart Association, gives some advice on staying active to help your heart stay as strong – and healthy – as possible.
“A healthy heart starts with an active lifestyle,” said Dr. Knowlton. “All it takes is a few more steps each day.”
Long periods of sitting are actually dangerous and can lead to diabetes and high blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart disease.
Dr. Knowlton’s advice: Stay active. Even if you’re in an office all day, you can be active. It’s as simple as taking a walk every few hours and looking for opportunities to get up and move as much as possible.
“For most people staying active is simple,” said Dr. Knowlton, “Go for a half hour walk each day. Then, after the daily walk becomes easy, build up intensity and duration of physical activity.”
A simple way to accomplish this: Take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk instead of driving your car and get others to come along with you, he advises. When you go shopping, park further away from the entrance and get in the extra steps to get your heart moving.
Following these simple tips will not only keep your heart healthy, but also keeps your heart pumping strong and reduces your risk of having a heart attack.