How much Physical Activity Do You Need for Heart Health?

March 2, 2021

It should come as no surprise that active people have healthier hearts than couch potatoes. A large-scale study by the UK Biobank, a large health database in the United Kingdom, looked the connections between physical activity (PA) and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Researchers found that those who exercised regularly were much less likely to develop CVD than non-exercisers. Data garnered from over 90,000 adults showed that nearly any amount of PA has a positive effect on heart health.

The researchers looked at records from men and women who had used motion trackers and separated the information into moderate, vigorous, total volume of PA and the incidence of CVD. Their findings suggest that PA is associated with lower risk for CVD—with the greatest benefit to those with the highest level of PA—whether at a moderate or vigorous intensity. What’s more, the study found that simply moving from low activity to slightly more activity lowered CVD by nearly 30-percent. The bottom line from the report is “some PA is good, but more is better.”

The Centers for Disease Control defines PA as anything that gets your body moving. They recommend a mix of both aerobic activity and strength training. For example, aerobic activity to increase your breathing and heart rate. You can choose anything from a brisk walk or run, to mowing the lawn and shoveling snow. Strength training challenges different muscles groups to push, pull, squat and lift.

If you’re a beginner or new to exercise, your goal should be to get 150-200 minutes of PA per week. That is roughly 30 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous activity. For intermediate exercisers who may be looking to shed some weight, shoot for 230+ minutes per week, or 40 minutes six times a week. If you are advanced and serious about fitness, then schedule 260-360 minutes per week. That’s about 45-60 minutes, five to six times per week.

Physical activity is any movement carried out by your muscles that requires energy.

– Fast walking
– Jogging and running
– Swimming
– Biking
– Housework and gardening (vacuuming, mowing, weeding)

Strength Training is any activity that strengthens your muscles. Add this activity at least two days per week.

– Lift weights
– Resistance tubing
– Body weight exercises such as squats, push-ups, core exercises, etc.
– Heavy housework and gardening (lifting, raking, shoveling)

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