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Living With Heart Disease

Excerpt From An AARP Guide: Living With Heart Disease: Everything You Need to Know to Safeguard Your Health and Take Control of Your Life.

Easing into Exercise

You may have been active before. Or perhaps this is the first time you’ve begun an exercise program. Either way, ease into your routine. Remember that you needn’t become a hard-core hardbody in order to get fit. Set and achieve small goals, then build on those successes.

How much exercise is enough? To address that question, the U.S. government issued new dietary and exercise guidelines in 2005. The key recommendation is to “engage in regular physical activity and reduce sedentary activities to promote health, psychological well-being, and a healthy body weight.” The guidelines make some more specific recommendations as well:

  • To reduce the risk of chronic disease in adulthood: Engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, above your usual activity, at work or home on most days of the week. For most people, greater health benefits can be obtained by engaging in physical activity of more vigorous intensity or longer duration.
  • To manage body weight and prevent gradual, unhealthy body weight gain in adulthood: Engage in about 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity on most days of the week. To complement these workouts, do not exceed daily caloric-intake requirements (1800 for women, 2200 for men).
  •  To sustain weight loss in adulthood: Participate in at least 60 to 90 minutes of daily moderate-intensity physical activity without exceeding caloric-intake requirements. Some people may need to consult with a health care provider before participating in this level of activity.

To summarize: Based on your goals, you should be aiming to accomplish 30 to 90 minutes of brisk exercise on most days—or, ideally, on every day—of the week. That objective may lie several stages away for you at this point. But if you take things one step at a time, you’re bound to succeed.

Sample Walking Program
Follow this walking program for the first 10 weeks, or walk as instructed by your health care provider. To track your progress and see how much you’ve achieved, keep an exercise log.

Week

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Minutes Walking

10

10

15

15

20

20

25

25

30

30

Walks per week

3-4

3-4

3-4

4-5

4-5

4-5

5-6

5-6

6-7

6-7

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