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EXERCISE: Do you get enough?

The information below was developed by the National Institute of Health (NIH) to assist you in making choices about your health care. Exercise plays an important role in your quality of life. 

Various studies have shown that inactive people are almost twice as likely to develop heart disease than those who are active. Daily physical activity such as walking, stair climbing, gardening and yard work can help reduce your risk of heart disease. In fact, burning calories through physical activity may help you lose weight or stay at your desirable weight - which also helps lower your risk of heart disease.

More vigorous exercise like swimming, brisk walking and running can help improve fitness of the heart and lungs, which can provide even more consistent benefits for lowering heart disease risk. These kinds of activities are sometimes called "aerobic" - meaning the body uses oxygen to produce the energy needed for the activity. Aerobic exercises can condition your heart and lungs if performed at the proper intensity for at least 30 minutes, 3-4 times a week.

Benefits of Regular Physical Activity

Feel Better  Regular physical activity gives you more energy, helps in coping with stress, improves your self-image, increases resistance to fatigue, helps counter anxiety and depression, and helps you to relax. Exercise also improves the ability to fall asleep quickly and sleep well.  

Look Better  Regular physical activity tones your muscles, burns off calories to help lose extra pounds or helps you stay at your desirable weight and helps control your appetite. You need to burn off 3,500 calories more than you take in to lose one pound. 

Work Better  Regular physical activity helps you be more productive at work, increases muscle strength, and helps your heart and lungs work more efficiently.

Tips for Exercising Safely

Exercising too hard is not beneficial and is especially strenuous for out-of-shape, middle-aged and older people. The most common risk in exercising is injury to the muscles and joints. This usually happens from exercising too hard or for too long. Follow these guidelines to avoid injury:

·         Get a medical checkup before starting any exercise program.

·         Learn how to use exercise and sports equipment properly.

·         Warm up and stretch for 5 to 10 minutes before you start any workout. Cool down afterward for 10 to 15 minutes by slowing down and stretching.

·         Wear appropriate and comfortable clothing.

·         Wear safety equipment.

·         Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercising.