Physical Activity for a Healthy Heart

Regular physical activity is essential for maintaining a healthy heart. Physical inactivity is one of several major heart disease risk factors. To maintain health, all adults should be moderately active for at least 30 minutes per day on most days of the week. To help manage body weight and prevent unhealthy weight gain, at least 60 minutes per day is recommended. Children and adolescents also need to be active for at least 60 minutes per day.

There are many ways people can incorporate physical activity into everyday life such as:

  • Use the stairs - both up and down - instead of the elevator. Start with one flight of stairs and gradually build up to more.
  • Park a few blocks from the office or store and walk the rest of the way. If you take public transportation, get off a stop or two early and walk a few blocks.
  • While working, take frequent activity breaks. Get up and stretch, walk around, and give your muscles and mind a change of pace.
  • Instead of eating that extra snack, take a brisk stroll around the neighborhood or your office building.
  • Do housework, gardening, or yard work at a faster pace.
  • When you travel, walk around the train station, bus station, or airport rather than sitting and waiting.

Regular physical activity has many other benefits, including burning extra calories, building stamina, improving balance, strengthening your lungs, and making you feel good.

To receive a guide to physical activity and the heart, visit www.nhlbi.nih.gov or call the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at (301) 592-8573.