The Baby Boomer Heart: Healing Fitness
When it comes to protecting your heart, fitness plays a key role.
The Minimum Exercise You Need
Recent U.S. government guidelines recommended 60 minutes of physical
activity daily to prevent weight gain. For those of us who have lost weight,
they recommend 60 to 90 minutes a day to keep the pounds off.
But don't let that scare you. Many cardiologists in the "trenches"
say you can improve your heart health with less exercise.
"I think it's a little excessive to expect 60 to 90 minutes -- even if
it is a healthy goal; I'm happy if I can get a patient to exercise 30 minutes
three to five times a week. And in truth, mortality studies suggest that this
really is adequate," says Boyd Lyles, MD, medical director of the Heart
Health and Wellness Center in Dallas, Texas.
What's more, says Lyles, splitting those 30 workout minutes into three
10-minute or two 15-minute segments works just as well.
Recently a second study in Medicine and Science in Sports and
Exercise compared the benefits from 30 minutes of brisk walking with those
from 10-minute walks several times a day. The result: Both the long and the
short walks improved aerobic fitness equally well in previously sedentary
people. And they proved equally effective in decreasing other risk factors for
heart disease, including body fat and blood pressure.
"The point is to get up off the sofa and move -- because it's the moving
that reaps the benefits," he says.
Getting Started Getting Fit
If you're like most adults, it could be 10, 20, or even 30 years since you
participated in any kind of meaningful physical activity. And if that is the
case, doctors say the last thing you want to do is put on the football jersey
and head for a weekend game of touch football with your nephew and his college
buddies. Likewise ladies, don't dust off those old aerobic tapes and expect to
go full tilt on day one.
Start slow and build up gradually.
"You don't have to have any kind of stress test. You just start walking
more, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking your car farther
rather than closer to the store entry. Just begin by incorporating more
movement in your normal life," says Siegel.