Inactivity in the U.S. is becoming an epidemic
By Nick Dragon
Feb 11, 2016
Updated Nov 17, 2023
5 min read
Regular exercise helps keep your arteries elastic – even in older people – ensuring good blood flow and normal blood pressure. Exercise at every age is important to overall health.
For optimal heart health, The American College of Sport Medicine recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise which can be broken down into 30 minutes a day for 5 days of the week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise.
Before starting any kind of exercise program, first consult with your doctor. It's always good to start with a baseline to be able to track your progress toward a healthier future but even more important, your doctor can help identify any health barriers or dangerous factors that may derail your progress.
Start at a very basic level and do something you love. If you love photography, start taking your camera for a 30-minute walk. If you love the mountains, try snowshoeing this winter. If tennis was your thing, start playing again. Just start moving and get your heart pumping and your blood moving.
Always increase frequency before intensity. When it comes to starting an exercise program – be like the tortoise and not the hare. In other words, slow and steady truly does win the race. All too often people are in a hurry to get to a certain weight or meet a certain distance goal but increased intensity too soon can lead to injury and frustrations landing you back at square one – or back on the couch. Listen to your body and let it tell you when to kick it up a notch. After you've tried walking three times a week for several weeks, try adding another day or a longer duration.
The goal to overall heart health in exercise is to make a lasting change that will help you live a healthier life for the rest of your life. In the famous words of Edward Stanley, Earl of Derby, "Those who think they have not time for exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness."