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Heart Disease: Walking for a Healthy Heart

Walking is a form of aerobic exercise and is one of the easiest ways to increase your physical activity and improve your health. Physical activity increases your heart rate, strengthens your heart, and increases blood circulation through your body, bringing more oxygen and nutrients to your organs. Exercise also increases your lungs' ability to take in oxygen, lowers blood pressure, helps to reduce body fat, and improves blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

  • Have a checkup before beginning an exercise program. If you have heart problems, your doctor may want to do tests to find out how much activity your heart can safely handle.
  • Start out slowly at first, with a warm-up in the beginning, a faster pace in the middle, and a cooldown at the end.
  • To stay motivated, walk with friends, coworkers, or pets. Set goals you can reach.
  • Use a pedometer to count your steps. Wear it all day and try to take at least 2,000 more steps a day than you normally do, and gradually increase your steps over time.
  • Set a goal. Try to walk at a moderate activity level for at least 2½ hours a week. One way to do this is to walk 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week.

how.gif  How can I stay motivated with a walking program?

Other Works Consulted

  • American College of Sports Medicine (2010). Exercise prescription for patients with cardiac disease. In WR Thompson et al., eds., ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, 8th ed., pp. 207–224. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

  • Eckel RH, et al. (2013). 2013 AHA/ACC guideline on lifestyle management to reduce cardiovascular risk: A report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Circulation. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2013/11/11/01.cir.0000437740.48606.d1.citation. Accessed December 5, 2013.

  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2008). 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (ODPHP Publication No. U0036). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Available online: http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/default.aspx.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerRakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Specialist Medical ReviewerJohn A. McPherson, MD, FACC, FSCAI - Cardiology

Current as ofSeptember 30, 2014

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 30, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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