Physical activity is one of the key strategies that can assist in preventing a heart attack or developing heart disease. Regular exercise is crucial as it helps control other risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and being overweight.
Those who engage in regular physical activity (30 minutes 5 days a week) have a 30% lower risk of heart disease.
Regular walking lowers blood pressure by as much as 11 points and can reduce the risk of stroke by 20% to 40%.
Aerobic physical activity such as running and swimming raises HDL, the ‘good’ cholesterol by 3 to 6% and lowers LDL, known as the ‘bad’ cholesterol by 5 to 10% reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Physical activity also impacts on mental health and reduces mental stress, as it reduces the levels of cortisol in your body, specifically being active outdoors and connecting with nature.
Begin with shorter, lower intensity exercises such as walking to build your self-confidence and motivation for more energetic activities. Then start to gradually increase the length and intensity of your exercise sessions. If you have not exercised for some time, it is recommended that you consult with a health professional before commencing activity and progress slowly.
Whether it be running, swimming, dancing, boxing or cycling – find an activity you love. The key to sticking with exercise is to make it interesting and enjoyable! Try a range of activities – not only does it keep your interests up; it will challenge different muscle groups!
Exercising with a friend can make it more fun, increases your chances of sticking to your exercise regime, make you work harder and is a great way to catch up!
Establish a mixture of short and long-term goals that are achievable and that you can measure. Use the SMART principle to help keep you on track. Take the time to recognise your improvements as this can increase your motivation.
Mark in your diary when you plan on doing your exercise sessions and review your progress regularly. When it’s already in your diary, you’re more likely to plan other things around it.