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Exercise and Your Heart

     and Your Heart



Moderate exercise each day may decrease heart failure risk

American Heart Association
September 2014

Exercise at Heart Banner
How Should I Start an Exercise Program?

So you want to increase your physical activity. How Should I Exercise?Now what? The hardest part of a new exercise routine is starting. Here are some tips to get you going.

Getting started

  1. Be realistic. Weight loss and an increase in stamina take time. Don’t expect to be running a marathon and losing a dress size in your first week.
  2. Be intentional. Set aside specific times to be physically active. Plan your physical activities in advance so you know what you’re going to do, when, where, and with whom.
  3. Set goals. Start out slow and set a realistic short-term goal, like walking 10 minutes every day for the first week and taking the stairs. To increase your likelihood of staying with the routine, set a long-term goal as well, such as walking for 30 minutes at least 5 days a week by the end of the first month… [Read More]

Photo credit: Amanda Mills, CDC

National Exercise Recommendations

National Exercise RecommendationsAmerican Heart Association suggests at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity). 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week is an easy goal to remember, however you will also experience benefits even if you divide your time into two or three segments of 10 -15 minutes per day.

What counts 

Physical activity is anything that makes you move your body and burn calories, such as climbing stairs or playing sports. The simplest, most positive change you can make to effectively improve your heart health is to start walking. A walking program is flexible and boasts high success rates because people can stick with it. It's easy for walking to become a regular and satisfying part of life… [Read More]

Photo credit: American Heart Association

When Is Exercise Not Enough?

Rebecca Trahan - When Is Exercise Not EnoughFor distance runner Rebecca Trahan, logging miles and keeping her body fit have been a way of life. Between running her miles and running her graphic design business, any thought of heart disease was nowhere in the picture.

The unexpected 

When she experienced a serious heart episode, she discounted it because of her high fitness level, and even continued to exercise. But she had actually suffered a spontaneous dissection of her left main coronary artery, one of two arteries that feed blood to the heart muscles. It is a dangerous and relatively rare affliction… [Read More]

Photo credit: Texas Heart Institute

How to Safely Exercise in Hot or Humid Weather

How to Safely Exercise in Hot or Humid WeatherWhen summer arrives, it is important to think about preventing dehydration and heat-related illnesses. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 300 Americans die every year of heat-related illnesses. Most of these deaths could be avoided if people better understood the dangers.

Be prepared 

Exercising vigorously in hot and humid weather can be challenging and even dangerous. But you can safely exercise in hot weather if you take the proper precautions. One of the most important things to do is to stay hydrated and decrease your exercise intensity on very hot days… [Read More]

Photo credit: Amanda Mills, CDC

The Dangers of Heat for Those with Heart Disease

The Dangers of Heat for Those with Heart DiseaseIn advance of the approaching summer season, when many are planning outdoor activities, doctors at the Texas Heart Institute warn about the risks of the intense summer heat, particularly for heart patients and those who might have undiagnosed heart conditions.

"Heart failure patients and patients with significant heart disease often have low cardiac reserve. They can become dehydrated very easily, even just by sitting in a house that is too hot or walking outside in hot weather," said Dr. Willerson. "Heat can also elevate the heart rate and affect blood pressure in patients with significant heart disease."[Read More]

Photo credit: Amanda Mills, CDC

Flexibility: The Most Neglected Part of a Fitness Program

Flexibility: The Most Neglected Part of a Fitness Program Having flexibility can improve your posture, reduce your risk of injury, give you more freedom of movement, and release muscle tension and soreness. Despite these benefits, flexibility exercises are the most neglected part of a fitness program.

Before you start the stretching phase of your program, always do 5 to 10 minutes of warm-up to loosen your muscles. Stretching cold muscles can lead to injury. Some examples of a warm-up are walking around, marching in place, slowly riding an exercise bike, or lightly jogging. If stretching is part of a longer program that includes a cardiovascular workout, always stretch after the cool-down section of your program… [Read More]

Photo credit: Debora Cartagena, CDC

Is Strength Training for Everyone?

Is Strength Training for Everyone?People who lift weights or who use any type of equipment that requires weights are doing strength-building exercise. Strength-building exercise makes your muscles and bones stronger and increases your metabolism (the way your body uses the calories you take in through eating or drinking). Strength training also makes your muscles larger. Your muscles burn calories for energy even when your body is at rest.

So, by increasing your muscle mass, you are burning more calories all of the time. If you strength train regularly, you will find that your body looks leaner and you will lose fat.

As part of a well-rounded exercise program, strength training should be performed 2 to 3 times a week for best results... [Read More]

Photo credit: Amanda Mills, CDC

Where Do You Stand on the Obesity Scale?

Where Do You Stand on the Obesity Scale?According to Dr. Stephanie Coulter, MD, obesity is the number one indicator of potential cardiovascular diseases. Extra body fat, especially around the waist, can also raise blood pressure, raise LDL “bad cholesterol,” lower HDL or “good cholesterol,” and cause diabetes.

The good news   

The good news is that exercise, coupled with a healthy diet, can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight and lower those risk factors for heart disease.  Knowing where you stand on the obesity scale is a important first step toward losing that excess weight.

Knowing your Body Mass Index (BMI) and waist circumference are two ways to estimate your body fat. Texas Heart Institute has free tools available to help you determine your risk for obesity and heart disease… [Read More]

Photo credit: Debora Cartagena, CDC

Lessons from an Olympic Athlete

Lessons from an Olympic AthleteLeo Manzano, the 5' 5" former University of Texas star, qualified for his second U.S. Olympic team with a come-from-behind first place in the U.S. Olympic Trials 1,500 meter race. Then he pulled off another come-from-behind finish to win the Silver Medal at the London 2012 Olympics. 

Leo, who immigrated to Austin, Texas from Mexico when he was 4 years old, is an athlete blessed with superior aerobic capacity and endurance; and he knows that a healthy heart is at the core of his athletic success.

Not everyone has his gifts but he believes there are small steps anyone can take to improve heart health for individuals, families, and communities… [Read More]

Photo credit: Leo Manzano

An Inactive Child Is an At-Risk Child

An Inactive Child Is an At-Risk ChildPhysical inactivity is a major risk factor for heart disease. Physical inactivity also increases the risk of developing other heart disease risk factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes.

Active children usually grow up to be active adults. Aside from preventing heart disease risk factors later in life, regular exercise will:  

  • Help control weight.
  • Strengthen bones.
  • Increase self-esteem and self-confidence… [Read More]

Photo credit: Amanda Mills, CDC

Why Exercise and How? - An Infographic
May 14, 2013 by Texas Heart Institute

Why Exercise and How? Infographic

To Walk or to Run?
To Walk or to Run?

Many people have their personal theories as to which is better exercise, walking or running. When it comes to the heart, the answer might surprise you. 

"Walking briskly can lower your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes as much as running can, according to surprising findings reported in the American Heart Association journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology."
Read the full report.

Photo credit: Amanda Mills, CDC
Energy Balance Basics

Energy Balance BasicsThe right balance of “calories in calories out” is different for everyone, but the important thing to remember is that if you take in more calories than you need, you will gain weight. 

Energy is another word for calories. Your energy balance is the number of calories IN, consumed through eating and drinking, compared to calories OUT, burned through physical activity. 

Here are just a few examples of estimated daily caloric requirements:

Women 19 to 30 years old
2,000 to 2,400 calories
Men 31 to 50 years old
2,200 to 3,000 calories
Children 9 to 11 years old
1,600 to 2,000 calories

The calorie ranges take into account physical activity levels from sedentary to moderately active to active. The more active you are, the more calories you burn. See What is energy balance? from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Photo credit: Amanda Mills, CDC

What is Target Heart Rate and Why is it Important?

What is Target Heart Rate and Why is it Important?Your target heart rate is a guideline that can help you measure your fitness level before the start of your aerobic activity and help you keep track of your progress. Target heart rate also lets you know how hard you are exercising. If you are beginning an exercise program, you should aim for the low end of your target heart rate zone. If you exercise regularly, you may want to work out at the high end of the zone.

Here is a quick example:

Low (50%)
High (75%)

Working out at low intensity, a 40 year old might achieve a heart rate of 90 beats per minute (resting heart rate is about 60 beats per minute). Working out at high intensity, the same person might achieve a heart rate of 135.  

The object is to maximize the benefit of cardiovascular exercise for your heart[Read More]

Photo credit: Amanda Mills, CDC

Why Should Women Exercise?

Why Should Women Exercise?Getting a move on is one of five steps that women can take to beat the odds of dying from heart and vascular disease. If you are a woman, your chances of dying from heart and vascular disease are nearly 1 in 2. But there are things you can do.

In fact, exercise is one of the most important things you can do to change your odds. It lowers your blood pressure, increases your HDL (good) cholesterol, lowers your diabetes risk, can improve symptoms of depression and menopause, and lots more. Simple changes can make a huge difference.

  • Walk with a friend for 30 minutes during lunch or walk the dog after work.
  • If you can’t do it at one time, break your walk into 3 ten-minute walks a day [Read More]
Photo credit: Amanda Mills, CDC
Making Exercise Fun for KidsMaking Exercise Fun for Kids with Project Heart

Get up and move! That’s our motto for children when it comes to taking control of their own heart health. Try some of these cool activities, brought to you by the Project Heart Robot, Cool-E.

Learn more ways to make exercise fun for kids by visiting Project Heart.

Photo credit: Texas Heart Institute

What Kind of Exercise is Best for My Heart?

What Kind of Exercise is Best for My Heart?There are 3 categories of exercises: cardiovascular, strength-building, and flexibility.

Cardiovascular exercise is also known as aerobic exercise, often referred to as just “cardio.” Aerobic exercise uses your large muscles (remember, your heart is a muscle) and can be continued for long periods. For example, walking, jogging, swimming, and cycling are aerobic activities. These types of exercises drive your body to use oxygen more efficiently and deliver maximum benefits to your heart, lungs, and circulatory system.

Strength-building and flexibility exercises are known as anaerobic exercise... [Read More]

Photo credit: Debora Cartagena, CDC

How to Exercise Safely in Cold Weather

How to Exercise Safely in Cold WeatherDuring the winter and cold spring months, even motivated exercisers can find it hard to keep up with their workouts. And for many of us, it can become all too easy to put exercise on hold. But it is important for your heart health to continue your routine during the cold-weather months.

Keeping up your exercise routine in cold weather has extra benefits. First, outdoor exercise is a great way to cure the "winter blues." Second, exercise increases your energy levels, which tend to be lower during bouts of cold or gloomy weather. Finally, exercise boosts your immune system, so you may find that you get fewer winter cold... [Read More]

Photo credit: Texas Heart Institute

Why Should I Exercise?

Why Should I Exercise?Exercise is essential in many ways: helping you maintain a healthy body weight, increasing your mobility, protecting against bone loss, reducing your stress levels, and helping you feel better about yourself. And, research has shown that people who exercise are less likely to develop heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels.

People of any age or fitness level can benefit from some type of exercise, be it running, walking, ballroom dancing, water aerobics, gardening, playing sports, or any activity you choose.

If you have decided to start an exercise program, you are already on your way to a healthier heart and a fitter body... [Read More]

Photo credit: Amanda Mills, CDC

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