How to Live Heart Healthy

Your heart is a muscle and needs to be worked, just like your other muscles, to make it stronger. When it comes to heart health, prevention is key. 8 out of 10 cases of premature heart disease can be prevented through lifestyle behaviours. Exercise is one of the key factors of heart health, and as a physiotherapist this discussion comes up daily in my practice. We all know that exercise is good for us, but did you know that it can:

  • DramaticaAll Postslly lower your risk for stroke and heart disease
  • Help prevent, or control risk factors such as:
    • High blood pressure
    • High cholesterol
    • Type 2 diabetes
    • Osteoporosis
    • Certain types of cancer
  • Improve sleep
  • Increase energy
  • Improve digestion
  • Reduce stress levels

You may even notice some changes, like more energy and lowering your blood pressure, within a week of starting an exercise program. After approximately three months of consistent exercise you can expect to notice improved posture, balance, muscle and bone strength. Physical activity contributes to other positive behaviours; research has shown that those who are more active are more likely to avoid unhealthy choices such as smoking, over eating, or drinking too much alcohol.

How much exercise is enough?

The Canadian Society for Exercises Physiology (CSEP) has created a exercise prescription guideline. The Canadian Physical Activity Guideline indicates that adults aged 18-64 should strive to achieve 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week. CSEP also suggests adding in strength-based workouts at least 2 times per week.

Tips on how to become more Active:

If you’re just starting out, start slow and gradually work up. Brainstorm how to work physical activity into your daily life. Listen to your body and understand that pushing too much right out of the gates can cause injuries that may limit how much activity you can do.

Pick activities you enjoy! You will be much more inclined to maintain that practice if the exercise you incorporate is one you love. Tell your friends and family what your goals are, that then gives them an opportunity to support and help you reach your goals.

Research has shown that you are much more likely to stick to something if you write it down. For me I am a very visual person and like to see my progress. I have a calendar (with a bunch of fun, made up symbols to indicate yoga, or hiking or a workout) that I can mark down all the activity I’ve done that week. I take pride in looking back and seeing what I’ve accomplished. What kind of system will work best for you? Now is the time to explore and find out!