For Your Heart’s Sake: Get Up and Move

Exercise Is Preventive Medicine for A Healthy Heart

One of the best things you can do for your heart is to get up and move your body.

Each year, over 800,000 people (2,200 each day) die of heart diseases in the United States. That’s 1 in 4 deaths.1

The good news is that heart disease is preventable or controllable for many people.

Lifestyle choices play a major role in determining who gets heart disease. Poor eating choices, smoking, and too much alcohol consumption all act to interrupt the flow of oxygen to the heart. So does the failure to just get up and move enough.

Exercise is preventive medicine. So for your heart’s sake, get up and move.

We’re Not Exercising Enough America!

According to the American Heart Association, only 21 percent of adults meet the federal guidelines for physical activity.

And we pass this risky behavior on to our children. Among ninth through twelfth graders, only 28 percent meet the recommendations.2

Women (54.1%) were more likely than men (43.9%) not to meet the federal guidelines. Further, inactivity increases with age. This is important because heart disease, which is worsened by physical inactivity, also increases with age.

African American and Hispanic adults were more likely to be inactive (43.2% and 44.7%, respectively) than were non-Hispanic white adults (31.0%). African Americans and Hispanics also experience higher rates of heart disease.3

We know that physical activity is vital to good heart health, but how much and what type of activity do adults need?

How Much Physical Activity Is Enough?

The 2008 Federal Guidelines for Physical Activity recommend 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. You can also mix the two, as long as you exercise for an equivalent amount of time. The guidelines seek a level of activity that increases the heart rate and makes us breathe harder during the exercise.

What Is Moderate Intensity Aerobic Activity?

Moderate-intensity aerobic exercise is activity that increases your heart rate and makes you breathe harder but still allows you to carry on a conversation. Examples:

  • Walking briskly
  • Working in the yard raking and picking up leaves
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Shoveling snow
  • Biking
  • Playing with your children
  • Hiking
  • Yoga
  • Dancing
  • Golfing (walking and carrying clubs)
  • Weight lifting (general light workout)
  • Stretching

Lots of options. Pick one or two you enjoy and gradually make them a part of your daily life. That weekly 150 minutes, or 2.5 hours, can be broken down into short spurts of activity, each lasting at least 10 minutes, throughout the week.

What Is Vigorous-Intensity Aerobic Activity?

Vigorous-intensity aerobic activity increases your heart rate substantially. It makes you breathe hard – so hard that it’s difficult to carry on a conversation. Examples:

  • Jogging or running
  • Swimming laps
  • Playing basketball
  • Playing football
  • Playing soccer
  • Playing racquetball
  • Playing tennis
  • Playing baseball
  • Playing volleyball
  • Power hiking
  • Rollerblading
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Jumping rope
  • Mountain biking
  • Walking uphill or power walking
  • Participating in an aerobics class

You can do all vigorous-intensity activity or mix it with moderate-intensity activity. The choice is yours. Just find something that is fun for you, and get started.

Want more ideas? The Centers for Disease Control videos offer suggestions on developing an activity plan for all age groups and pregnant women One has to be right for you. What’s important is to pick one activity and just get started.

Exercise is the easiest preventive medicine to swallow. For your heart’s sake, just get up and move today.




1Million Hearts. “About Heart Diseases and Strokes.”
2Go AS, Mozaffarian D, et al. on behalf of the American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. Top ten things to know about heart disease and stroke statistics. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2013 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation.2013: published online before print December 12, 2012, 10.1161/CIR.0b013e31828124ad.
3Roger VL, et al. on behalf of the American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. Physical inactivity. Statistical fact sheet. 2012 Update. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2012 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2012: published online before print December 15, 2011, 10.1161/CIR.0b013e31823ac046.