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 exercise session.
� 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.
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