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
� 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.