Dr. Maciej Malinski is on the medical staff at Sherman Hospital. He has been kind enough to answer some frequently asked questions related to maintaining a healthy heart. Look for additional heart information from Dr. Malinski in the coming weeks.
Q: I know exercise is good for me, but exactly how long and how often should I exercise to stay healthy?
A: Because of technological advances and economic incentives (technology reduces the energy needed for daily activities and economics pays more for sedentary than active work), physical inactivity is a pressing public health issue.
Regular physical activity prevents the development of heart disease and reduces symptoms in patients with established cardiovascular (heart and arterial) disease. There is also evidence that exercise reduces the risk of other chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, depression, and breast and colon cancer. Some people continue to believe that only vigorous and intense physical activity will improve health while others believe that the light activities of their daily lives are sufficient to promote health. Very often in my office I hear from my patients “…but I walk a lot at my work.”
To promote and maintain health, all healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 65 need any of the below:
- Moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity for a minimum of 30 minutes, five days each week (For example, a brisk walk, noticeably accelerated heart rate). This can be accumulated toward 30 minutes in bouts that last 10 minutes or more.
- Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity for a minimum of 20 minutes, three days each week. (For example, jogging. An exercise that causes rapid breathing and substantial increase in heart rate.)
- Combinations of moderate and vigorous-intensity activity to meet the above. For example, a person can meet the recommendation by walking briskly for 30 minutes twice during the week and then jogging for 20 minutes on two other days.
- Also, adults will benefit from performing activities that maintain or increase muscular strength and endurance for a minimum of two days each week. It is recommended that 8–10 exercises be performed on two or more nonconsecutive days each week using the major muscle groups. To maximize strength development, a resistance (weight) should be used that allows 8–12 repetitions of each exercise.
This recommended amount of aerobic activity is in addition to routine activities of daily living of light intensity (e.g., self care, cooking, casual walking, or shopping) or any activity lasting less than 10 min in duration (e.g., walking around home or office, walking from the parking lot).
To summarize, I tell my patients to have 30 minutes, 4 or 5 times a week, of continuous physical activity, at the end of which they are sweaty and slightly short of breath. Most of my patients unfortunately have so little physical activity that I would be happy if they would follow with that simple recommendation. The rare few who are actually interested in physical activity give me the opportunity to go into a detailed discussion of types and forms of exercise.
It really doesn’t take much of a daily investment to improve your health and extend your life. Remember, significantly lower risks of heart disease have been observed with as little as 45–150 minutes per week of brisk walking. So start there and move on to jogging and weight training if you feel so inclined, and you’ll be feeling better and living better as a result.
Do you have a question for Dr. Malinski? To submit your question, either post it in the comments section below or email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Question for Dr. Malinski.” For more information on heart health, click here to visit Sherman’s Heart and Vascular Center.
This post is published by Sherman Health to provide general health information. It is not intended to provide personal medical advice, which should be obtained directly from your physician.