Heart Healthy Exercise Habits

It’s a new year and you’re wondering if this may be the year to start a regular exercise routine.  However, you’re not really sure where to start or what to do.

The following questions and answers will guide you through starting a regular habitual exercise routine in 2024!

Got exercise questions? 

What is the best type of exercise for my heart?
Aerobic/cardiovascular exercise
Aerobic exercise is the type that is rhythmic, continuous and uses large muscle groups.  Some examples include walking, swimming, cycling, hiking, snowshoeing, X-country skiing, kayaking, etc.
How often should I exercise?
Most days of the week (5-6 days per week)
How hard should I exercise?
Week 1-4:  Low level (very light to fairly light)
Week 5-8: Moderate level (fairly light to somewhat hard)
Week 9- lifelong: Moderate to High (somewhat hard to hard)
How long should I exercise?
30 minutes or more per session
30 minutes at start of exercise program
Increase duration by 5-10 minutes as tolerated after week 2.
What are the benefits of cardiovascular exercise for my heart?
This type of exercise strengthens the heart and lungs and improves the body's ability to use oxygen. Aerobic exercise has the most benefits for your heart. Over time, aerobic exercise can help decrease your heart rate and blood pressure and improve your breathing. Exercise is the best medicine for prevention of heart disease.
How much exercise is safe for me to do since I haven’t done much activity in the last 20 years?
Start small and build up gradually.  Your body will let you know if you are doing too much. Pay close attention to the signals your body sends you (fast breathing rate and muscle fatigue).  It’s always best to be conservative when starting an exercise program which will decrease the risk of injury and severe muscle soreness.  You can’t make up for 20 years of inactivity in 1-2 weeks.

What will help me stick to my exercise routine?
  • Set a regular schedule and stick to it.
  • Exercise with a partner.  Accountability is crucial on the days when you “don’t feel like it”
  • Exercise in the morning while you have more energy and less chance of distractions.
  • Listen to music, podcast or watch TV while exercising to avoid boredom.
  • Use fitness trackers to stay motivated.
  • Try different exercise classes at a gym.
What is the best piece of equipment to use?
The type that you will actually use!  It’s also best to use equipment that feels good on your joints.  Don’t use equipment that causes pain.  If it hurts….don’t do it!