Ask the Cardiologist: How much do I need to exercise?

Dr. Maciej Malinski (pictured in animated form above and real-life form on the right) 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 in his Ask the Cardiologist series. Look for additional heart information from Dr. Malinski throughout Heart Month 2011.

Q: I am in my 50s. How much should I exercise to keep my heart healthy, and what particular exercises should I be doing?

A: To promote and maintain health, all healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 65 need either:

  1. Moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity for a minimum of 30 minutes, five days per week, or
  2. Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity for a minimum of 20 minutes, three days per week.


Also, combinations of moderate and vigorous-intensity activity can be performed to meet this recommendation. 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.

Moderate-intensity aerobic activity, which is generally equivalent to a brisk walk and noticeably accelerates the heart rate, can be reached at the 30 minute mark from sets lasting 10 or more minutes. Vigorous-intensity activity is achieved by jogging, and causes rapid breathing and a substantial increase in heart rate.

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 lasting less than 10 minutes in duration (e.g., walking around the home or office, walking from the parking lot). Significantly lower risks of heart disease have been observed with as little as 45–150 minutes per week of brisk walking.

I tell my patients to exercise for 30 minutes, 4 to 5 times per week, at the end of which they should be sweaty and slightly short of breath.

A study published two weeks ago examines the relationships of leisure-time sitting behavior (measured as time spend in front of the TV or computer screen) with all-cause mortality and cardiovascular events. The results suggest that there is an independent, deleterious relationship of screen-based recreational sitting time with cardiovascular events. To put it another way, people spending two hours per day on screen-based entertainment have increased risks of cardiovascular events.

These associations were independent of traditional risk factors such as smoking, hypertension, BMI, social class, and physical activity. So, exercise is not only important while we’re in the gym, but also when we’re simply going about our lives.

Do you have a question for Dr. Malinski? To submit your question, either post it in the comments section below or email luke@shermanhealth.com with the subject line “Question for Dr. Malinski.” To schedule the essential (and painless) $79 Healthy Heart CT Scan, click here.

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.

About Sherman Health

Sherman Health has provided medical care to Northern IL since 1888, and is currently home to a network of over 600 physicians. The Sherman blogs are edited by me, Luke. Questions? Comments? Links? Email address is luke at shermanhealth dot com.
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5 Responses to Ask the Cardiologist: How much do I need to exercise?

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Ask the Cardiologist: How much do I need to exercise? | Sherman Heart & Vascular Blog -- Topsy.com

  2. ann says:

    Is it true that if a woman has vertical lines in her earlobes, it’s a sign that she could be at risk of heart disease?

  3. Thanks for the question, Ann! We’ve sent it to Dr. Malinski for a response.

  4. Pingback: Ask the Cardiologist: Is walking good for my heart? | Sherman Heart & Vascular Blog

  5. Pingback: Ask the Cardiologist: Are there any benefits to treating low HDL? | Sherman Heart & Vascular Blog

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