Exercise for Healthy Hearts

Posted by on Sep 9, 2010 in Staying Active |

Exercise is good for us, right?  Most of us believe physical fitness will help keep us healthy, especially as we age. Some of the benefits are:

  • Combating depression and anxiety
  • Keeping bones, muscles and joints functioning well
  • Improved cholesterol levels
  • Helping to reduce body weight and body fat
  • Helping the cardiovascular system to work more efficiently
  • Reducing the risk of high blood pressure AND…of heart disease! 

Exercise has many benefits for the heart and cardiovascular system. But what kind of exercise?  Here are some simple ways to increase your everyday activity and work your heart for healthy results:

  • Increase the amount you walk, e.g., park your car further from the door when shopping.
  • Get up and move every hour.
  • Stretch during commercial breaks while watching TV.
  • Take the stairs – not the escalator or elevator. 

Everyday activities you may not think of – like gardening and housework – also qualify  as exercise and  contribute to heart health.

You don’t need an hour-long exercise regimen to help your health and your heart.  If you can’t manage 30 to 40 minutes continuously, break that down into ten-minute segments of light exercise such as walking. If you have not been exercising for a while, the Cleveland Clinic recommends that you aim to start at 15 minutes every other day and work up from there.

Staying motivated is the key.

  • Make a plan. Don’t just say you will exercise if you feel like it…because you may never feel like it!
  • Read up on exercise and health. Get ideas about new activities to try or new ways of doing activities you already like.
  • Take a course in a new activity.  Spending the money for the course and having a group to support you and to learn with can be inspiring.
  • Start exercising with a friend or neighbour.  Your partner can help you stay the course when your commitment is low. Exercising with a companion can feel more social and less like drudgery.
  • Pick activities you like. Running may provide a good cardiovascular workout, but if you hate it you are far less likely to keep doing it.
  • Make a six-week commitment.  Some exercise specialists believe you will notice results from an exercise program within 6 weeks.  Seeing those results can help keep you going – but you need to get to the six-week mark! 

The risks and prevalence of heart disease are too great for mid-life adults and seniors to ignore. Embracing an active lifestyle is one of the best preventive measures we can take. 

For more information, visit these web sites:

Exercise for your Health: Benefits and How-To’s

Canadian Diabetes Association, exploring links between diabetes and heart disease.

Try the quiz on heart health and heart disease at


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