- Become—and stay—physically active.
- Balance your calorie intake with the calories you burn in physical activity.
- Lose weight if you’re overweight.
- If you smoke, stop. Avoid other people’s smoke if you can.
- Control high blood pressure.
- Control high blood cholesterol.
- Control diabetes.
- Choose foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sugar, and salt.
- Enjoy more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
The Benefits Keep Coming
It is hard to imagine a single practice with more health benefits than
regular physical activity. In addition to protecting your heart in
numerous ways, staying active:
- May help to prevent cancers of the breast, uterus, and colon.
- Strengthens your lungs and helps them to work more efficiently.
- Tones and strengthens your muscles.
- Builds stamina.
- Keeps your joints in good condition.
- Improves balance.
- May slow bone loss.
Regular physical activity can also boost the way you feel. It may:
- Give you more energy.
- Help you to relax and cope better with stress.
- Build confidence.
- Allow you to fall asleep more quickly and sleep more soundly.
- Help you to beat the blues.
- Provide an enjoyable way to share time with friends or family.
Types of Physical Activity
Aerobic activity is any physical activity that uses large muscle groups and causes your body to use more oxygen than it would while resting. This booklet focuses mainly on aerobic activity because it is the type of movement that most benefits the heart. Examples of aerobic activity are brisk walking, jogging, and
Resistance training—also called strength training—can firm, strengthen, and tone your muscles, as well as improve bone strength, balance, and coordination. Examples of strength moves are pushups, lunges, and bicep curls using dumbbells.
Flexibility exercises stretch and lengthen your muscles. These activities help to improve joint flexibility and keep muscles limber, thereby preventing injury. An example of a stretching move is sitting cross-legged on the floor and gently pushing down on the tops of your legs to stretch the inner thigh muscles.
Working Together for Health
While aerobic activities benefit the heart most, all three types of movement are vital components of a physical activity program. They also work together in important ways. For example, resistance exercises can help you achieve the muscle strength, balance, and coordination to do your aerobic activities more successfully.
Meanwhile, flexibility training will help you to move your muscles and joints more easily and prevent injury as you engage in aerobic activities. Many activities that promote flexibility and strength are also relaxing and fun.
A good beginning makes a good end.