If you aren’t physically active, chances are it’s more than a coincidence if you have heart disease. The next step is to get more exercise, but what kind and how much? Here are some get-started options from Dr. Deepak L. Bhatt, director of the Integrated Interventional Cardiovascular Program at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Walking. For formerly inactive men, the best way to start is daily walking. “Brisk walking is certainly good for the heart and the vascular system, but it’s also good for everything else—the joints, the muscles, the bones,” says Dr. Bhatt. “It keeps everything going.” You should feel the benefits of daily walking fairly soon, with more energy, a lighter mood, and less joint pain—to name just a few benefits identified in research.
Cardio workout. If you want to step it up a bit to more strenuous “cardio” workout at a health club, check in with your doctor to make sure it’s safe to do so.
Home gym. Health clubs offer a social environment that some exercisers enjoy, but others may opt for a home treadmill or exercise bike.
Smaller amounts count. You can benefit from the collective effect of physical activity in smaller amounts throughout the day, in contrast to extended sessions on treadmills and elliptical trainers. “Some research says you can get your exercise in smaller increments, say several 10 minute periods,” Dr. Bhatt says.
Increase general activity. There are a lot of ways to be physically active. But the bottom line is to increase your level of activity—whatever form it may take. “The greatest benefit is had by going from nothing to something,” Dr. Bhatt says.
Here are some easy ways to increase daily physical activity: