Exercising for a healthy heart

If you exercise regularly, you may lower your risk of a heart attack and stroke. If you’re middle-aged or older and haven’t been exercising regularly or have a chronic health problem. Work with your doctor to develop an exercise program.

To condition your heart safely:
• Start at a comfortable level of exertion Try walking five to 10 minutes over a short distance indoors.
Increase five minutes a session, as tolerated.

• Schedule regular exercise Aim for 30 to 60 minutes a day of low- to moderate-intensity
physical activity.

• Include variety Combine three types of exercise — stretching (flexibility),endurance (aerobic) and strengthening (weight training) and three levels of intensity — warm-up, workout level and cool-down  in each exercise session.

• Cross-train to reduce your risk of injury Alternate among exercises that emphasize different parts of
the body, such as swimming, bicycling and walking.

• Don’t overdo it
Start slowly and build up gradually, allowing time between sessions for your body to rest and recover. And forget the saying “No pain, no gain.” A little muscle soreness when you do something new isn’t unusual, but soreness doesn’t equal pain. If it hurts, stop doing it.

• Increase your physical activity Even routine activities such as gardening, climbing stairs or washing floors can burn calories and help improve your health, although not at the same level as a structured exercise program. Just keep moving: Walk or bike to the store instead of driving, park farther away at the shopping mall, take the stairs instead of an elevator.