How to get more active without going to extremes

Although every little move you make helps to nurture a healthier heart, you can build even more robust cardiovascular strength with a brisk walk. After all, exercise doesn't have to be hugely vigorous to be beneficial. Here's some more information on how to get more active without going to extremes.

How to get more active without going to extremes

All gain, no pain

You don't have to (and, in fact, you shouldn't) heave, gasp and suffer pain to reap the rewards of exercise. In fact, those new to exercise can raise their heart rates into the vigorous zone with little more than brisk walking.

Researchers asked 84 overweight men and women to walk 1.6 kilometres (one mile) at a pace that was "brisk but comfortable," the vast majority of the volunteers immediately stepped up their pace to an average 5 kilometres per hour (3.2 miles per hour), which translates into a "hard" to "very hard" intensity (70 to 100 percent of their maximum heart rates). The best part of the study was that the subjects found it easier than they expected. They anticipated having to suffer when, really, they just had to go from a slow stroll to a brisk walk.

To be able to tell if you are working hard enough, give yourself the talk test. If you're able to talk to a companion or on your cell phone while you walk, your exercise level is easy. If you can only speak, phrase by phrase, with little pauses for breath in between, you're right on target. If you can barely speak without gasping for air, you're working too hard. Try to keep in the middle of this range.

Simple ways to get moving

Don't feel guilty about not going to a gym and keeping up an exhausting pace. There is no reason why we should not aim to increase the physical activities that are pleasurable and fit in with our lifestyles and daily life.Try the following:

  • Take the stairs and walk up escalators
  • Walk to the next bus stop
  • Get a pedometer and keep track of your daily steps
  • Enlist support from a friend
  • Leave your car at home for short trips
  • Take a walk at lunchtime
  • Play active games with children
  • Walk your children to school
  • Buy a bicycle and use it
  • Try something new like dancing or gardening

Do you need a doctor's approval?

Most people don't need to see a doctor before they start exercising, but for those with existing conditions, it's wise to get your doctor's approval before participating in energetic exercise.

To find out if you need a checkup, review this checklist. If one or more of the statements apply to you, talk to your doctor before starting a new program.

  • You have heart trouble or a heart murmur, or you have had a heart attack.
  • You frequently have pain or pressure in the left- or mid-chest area or the left neck, shoulder or arm that occurs as you exercise but goes when you rest.
  • You get breathless during only mild exertion.
  • Your blood pressure is high and/or isn't under control, or you don't know whether your blood pressure is normal.
  • You have bone or joint problems, such as arthritis.
  • You are over the age of 60 and not used to vigorous exercise.
  • Your father, mother, brother or sister had a heart attack before age 50.
  • You have a medical condition not mentioned here that may need special attention in an exercise program.

Whether you're new to exercise or already active, keep this information on how to get more active without going to extremes in mind to help you keep at it.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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