Most people know that exercise is important for heart health. However, not everyone knows just how much exercise is enough. Is it 15 minutes a day? 30 minutes? 1 hour? Time to set the record straight.
The recommendation is that all adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. At a minimum, aim for at least 10 minutes at a time. After that, it's your choice. You could do 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Or two 15-minute sessions a day, five days a week. Or three 10-minute sessions a day for five days.
Be sure to do activities that will strengthen your muscles, too. Look for moderate- or high-intensity activities that work all your major muscle groups at least two days a week. The major muscle groups are: legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms.
Yes, 10 or 15 minutes at a time is okay
Short bursts of activity can, in fact, help your heart. And most people should be able to carve out 15 minutes twice daily or 10 minutes three times daily for heart-healthy physical activity.
Exercise can lower your risk for heart disease by reducing heart disease risk factors (high blood pressure and high cholesterol are two). Physical activity can actually lower your blood pressure by as much as some medications. It can also increase your levels of good cholesterol.
Exercise can even improve your blood circulation, which may also reduce your risk for heart disease. For women, regular moderate aerobic exercise is thought to reduce heart disease risk by 30 to 40 percent.
Making short workouts count
Regular aerobic exercise strengthens your heart.
You can get a moderate-intensity aerobic workout from many activities, like:
- Brisk walking
- Doubles tennis
- Water aerobics
What's most important is that you simply get moving! In addition to doing what you typically think of as "exercise," you can also get physical activity from your everyday routine. General gardening counts. So does house cleaning, yard work or washing your car. Just be creative and move more!Check with your doctor first
It can be overwhelming to know where to start if you haven't exercised much before, or you haven't exercised in awhile. If you are physically inactive or you have a health condition such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, pregnancy or other symptoms, check with your doctor before starting an exercise program or increasing your activity level. He or she can tell you what types and amounts of activities are safe and suitable for you.
Created on 09/02/2000
Updated on 08/13/2014
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. 2008 physical activity guidelines for Americans.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How much physical activity do adults need?
- Eckel RH, Jakicic JM, Ard JD, et. al. 2013 AHA/ACC guideline on lifestyle management to reduce cardiovascular risk: A report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association task force on practice guidelines. Circulation.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overcoming barriers to physical activity.