Exercise for a Healthy Heart - Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare

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Published on February 02, 2015

Exercise for a Healthy Heart

Despite being told for years we need to eat better and exercise more, cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death for women in the United States. By 2030 the American Heart Association predicts 40.5 percent of the US population will have some form of cardiovascular disease. But that gloomy prediction doesn't have to become a reality.

With a proper diet and a focus on exercise with the right intensity, Dr. Lisa Armaganian, a noninvasive cardiologist and the Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation at Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, says we can change that path we’re on.

“In my practice I’m not seeing women putting themselves and their health first," she says. "They put everyone’s needs ahead of their own. What I want women to understand is, you need to make yourself a priority, otherwise you may not be able to care for the ones you love.”

Dr. Armaganian is also a certified health fitness specialist and a mother of eight, so she knows what she’s talking about. “Your heart is a muscle, and it gets stronger and healthier if you lead an active life. It's never too late to start exercising, and you don't have to be an athlete.”

Why Exercise is Important

  • Improves blood circulation
  • Helps get weight under control
  • Improves cholesterol levels
  • Improves high blood pressure
  • Boosts energy level
  • Improves mood
  • Delays chronic diseases associated with aging
  • Helps you sleep better
  • Helps manage stress

How Much Exercise You Need

  • A minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week, for example brisk walking, swimming, tennis (doubles), gardening or biking. Think at least five, 30-minute workouts per week as the goal. OR 
  • 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise (running, boot camp, high-intensity interval training, jumping rope, tennis (singles), hiking uphill) per week. 

Most health professionals are also in agreement that walking 10,000 steps a day (approximately 5 miles) is the ideal goal to set for improving health.

How to Find Time to Exercise

  1. Find something you like to do. If you hate to run, don’t do it. You’ll never stick with something you don’t like to do. Make exercising easier by finding something you actually like to do. Experiment; find something that suits your personality, tastes, and lifestyle.
  2. Make a schedule and stick to it. Writing your workout down reminds you that exercising is important and an appointment with yourself that’s worth keeping.
  3. Work out efficiently. High-intensity workouts take less time.
  4. Something is better than nothing. So you didn’t get to the gym today, even short and speedy workouts can benefit the body and mind if done frequently and consistently.
  5. Track your progress. Measuring your activity level can help keep you on track and give you a sense of accomplishment when you see all you’ve done.

Get additional tips for how to live a healthy lifestyle even with a busy schedule.

It's important to start slowly and gradually increase your level of activity over time. Always consult your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen.

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Exercise for a Healthy Heart