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Find out why physical activity is important for health and how you can incorporate more movement into your life.

  • Why does exercise help conditions such as diabetes and peripheral artery disease?

  • Despite symptoms of fatigue and pain, exercising can help condition muscles to use oxygen more efficiently. As patients exercise regularly, their stamina will often increase and symptoms may become lessened over time, improving quality of life.
  • What is the difference between physical activity and exercise?
  • Physical activity is any type of movement that causes your muscles to exert energy. Exercise, on the other hand, is a planned and repetitive movement sustained for a prolonged period of time. Both physical activity and exercise get the body moving, helping to burn fat and promote good health.
  • What type of exercise is recommended for heart failure patients?

  • Aerobic activity in varying degrees of intensity for at least 30 minutes on 5 or more days a week is often recommended for heart failure patients. However, resistance training has also been shown to be beneficial for heart failure patients, in addition to stretching/breathing exercise, such as tai chi and yoga.
  • What type of exercise allows for the greatest health benefits for patients with type 2 diabetes?

  • A study found that structured aerobic exercise was associated with the greatest hemoglobin A1c  reductions, followed by structured resistance training and combined training. Physical activity and dietary advice were also associated with hemoglobin A1c  reductions, but only when combined together or with exercise training.

  • How can I help reduce health implications of prolonged sitting without a standing desk?

  • There are many ways that adults can help break up the sedentary periods of the day, such as getting up every hour to take a quick walk or just standing in front of a desk and stretching. The act of simply switching between the standing and sitting positions throughout the day can help combat the effects of sitting all day and improve cardiovascular health.
  • How can I achieve optimal fitness?

  • Experts have found that to achieve important health benefits, adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity (i.e., brisk walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity (i.e., jogging or running) every week, incorporating muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week. And although it may sound like a lot, that’s only 30 minutes of moderate physical activity 5 days a week, or 25 minutes of vigorous physical activity 3 times a week. Each adult should check with his/her care team for an activity plan that is best for him/her.
  • How do I start a home walking program if I have PAD?
  • Walking is a safe activity for most people, however always talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program. The components of a good program include:

    • Warm up and cool down. You should spend the first 5 minutes walking at a slower pace to loosen your muscles and allow your heart rate to increase gradually.  Slow down for the last 5 minutes of your walk to let your heart rate to return to normal.
    • Conditioning. This is the main part of your workout. Try to start with 20 minutes of walking at least 3 times a week. Increase the length of your walking sessions by 5 minutes each week until you reach 45 minutes of total walking.  This will take several weeks, but you should see an improvement in your symptoms after 3 to 6 months of regular walking.
    • Safety. If you have chest pain, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeats, or dizziness stop exercising immediately and call your doctor.
  • Can children improve their HRR?

  • Absolutely. Higher levels of HRR are associated with risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol, high body mass index (BMI), and a lack of physical activity. Through diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes, children can improve their HRR, thus improving their cardiovascular health.
  • Do those getting more than the recommended 150 minutes/week achieve greater health benefits than those just meeting the guidelines?
  • Yes. Based on this study, risk for death decreases by 4% with every 15 minutes of exercise each day beyond the minimum of 15 minutes/day. And other study findings agree — the more often you exercise, the greater the health benefits.
  • Can tai chi be dangerous for some patients?

  • There were no adverse events related to the practice of tai chi in a specific  study. However, patients with heart failure should consult their physician before beginning a new type of exercise, to make sure that it’s right for them.
  • Do episodic physical activity and sexual activity have equal risk for cardiac events?

  • Among the 14 studies analyzed in the case-crossover study mentioned above, data demonstrates a higher risk for episodic physical activity in triggering a heart attack than sexual activity. On average, episodic physical activity increases risk for a heart attack by 3.45 times, whereas sexual activity only slightly doubles risk. However, habitual activity significantly lowers risk for both types of episodic activities.
  • Do factors other than inactivity contribute to health risks associated with TV viewing?

  • Although the sedentary behavior associated with TV viewing is a large part of related health risks, researchers believe there are other factors that contribute to these negative effects. For example, many adults and children partake in unhealthy and mindless eating while watching TV, which can cause weight gain. TV advertisements may also promote unhealthy habits in viewers, such as consuming unhealthy foods or starting to smoke.
  • Is it safe for patients with congenital heart disease to exercise?
  • For most patients with congenital heart disease, it’s not only safe but important to stay physically active. Physical activity helps improve heart health and reduces risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, depression, cancer and heart disease. Patients with congenital heart disease should work closely with their providers to create a physical activity program that is safe for them.
  • Isn't running one of the best ways to stay healthy?

  • Although running is a great form of exercise, especially when practiced regularly, runners can have many of the same risk factors as their non-running counterparts. That’s why it’s important to see your doctor regularly and discuss which types of physical activity are the safest and most effective for you.
  • How much can habitual physical activity decrease risk for acute cardiac events?

  • Risk for triggering an acute cardiac event after episodic physical activity can decrease from 30-45% for each type of habitual physical activity per week. This means that adding just 2-3 types of physical activity each week can help to greatly decrease and even eliminate the increased risk for cardiac events after episodic activity.
  • How much exercise do patients with type 2 diabetes need to promote better health?

  • Studies have shown that patients with type 2 diabetes exercising for at least 150 minutes a week see the greatest health benefits, like blood sugar reduction. Patients with type 2 diabetes engaging in less than 150 minutes of exercise a week are still likely to experience blood sugar reductions and health benefits, but not as much as those exercising 150 minutes a week or more.

  • How much exercise do patients need after percutaneous coronary intervention PCI to reduce risk for complications?

  • Guidelines for care after PCI advise 30–60 minutes of physical activity on most—preferably all—days of the week.
  • How much exercise is recommended for adults over the age of 65?

  • It is recommended that adults over 65 get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week, such as brisk walking, to achieve important health benefits. Each adult should check with his/her care team for an activity plan that is best for him/her.
  • How is Heart Rate Recovery measured?

  • To determine HRR, the pulse must be measured before, during, and after exercise (typically following a short exercise test). By comparing the heart rate a few minutes after exercise with the heart rate right after stopping, the rate at which the heart slows down or recovers can be measured.
  • Can I continue to exercise if I have angina?
  • Should I limit my physical activity due to my aortic valve regurgitation?
  • Should I restrict my physical activity because of endocarditis?
  • Will I have exercise and weight lifting restrictions after a pacemaker placement?
  • Should I restrict my physical activity because of a heart murmur?
  • Are there any restrictions to my exercise program because of aortic aneurysm?

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