2018-02-01 / OnCall

Get Moving!

Easy steps to get active and improve your heart health

“One of the best ways to keep your heart healthy is through regular exercise. Even simple, regular aerobic activity can strengthen your heart muscle, lower your blood pressure and improve your outlook and mood,” says Kip Peeler, physician assistant with Mount Nittany Physician Group Cardiology. “Regular exercise can also prevent falls and fractures by slowing the loss of bone mass, allowing you to better control your diabetes or reduce your risk of developing this disease.”

First Things First
The first step to improving heart health is to schedule a visit with your healthcare provider — especially if you haven’t been exercising regularly. Once you get the go-ahead, there are several different ways to add exercise into
your daily routine.

Choose Carefully
Select activities that you enjoy, like walking, swimming, riding an exercise bike, doing light stretching or practicing yoga. Exercising with a friend can help keep you motivated and supported. You may also want to consider joining a group exercise program at the YMCA, a senior center or community center. Those can also be great locations for walking or swimming indoors during inclement weather. Even minor changes to your daily activities, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or walking to the mailbox, count as heart-healthy exercise.

Keep in Mind
Start out slowly, with the goal of doing some form of light exercise 1-2 times a week for about 5-10 minutes at a time. When you feel comfortable, add a few minutes to each exercise session, but make sure to pace yourself. Listen to your body.

Exercise should never hurt.
Stop exercising and call 9-1-1 immediately if you experience chest pain or discomfort that doesn’t go away; pain that may be in the chest, neck, jaw, shoulders, arms or back; sudden discomfort or pain that does not ease with rest; pain that may feel like burning, squeezing, heaviness, tightness or pressure; shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; nausea, indigestion or vomiting; excessive sweating; extreme fatigue; or dizziness or lightheadedness.

Wear socks and sturdy shoes to maintain your balance while exercising.

Stop and rest whenever you feel short of breath.

Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise.

Don’t push yourself on days when you don’t feel well.

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