Taking Steps Toward a Healthy Heart

When living a healthy lifestyle, moving more and exercising is pretty important! Not only for losing weight, looking more lean and toned but most importantly for your heart health.

For the past several years I’ve participated in the Heart Mini for the American Heart Association. It not only supports a great cause, but it’s also a great way to move more. Personally, this year, I’ll be walking the mini and not running. Actually, when I started my weight loss journey, I only walked for well over a year until I attempted running. But whether running, walking, or strength training, any exercise has its benefits.

But what if you’re completely new to exercise? 

I had the opportunity to ask Shay Parris, a supervisor for Outpatient Cardiac Rehabilitation Center at The Christ Hospital Health Network, about starting a new routine, and she says:
  • If you have never exercised before you should first get an OK from your doctor.  
  • Regular exercise is the first step in establishing a heart-healthy lifestyle. 
  • Start out with a three-four minute warm up. Start out doing 20-30 minutes. 
  • When walking start out at a comfortable pace that does not leave you breathless. Being a little winded is OK, but you should be able to talk while exercising, if you can’t, then slow down. 
  • If you’re not sure how fast you should be walking just pretend you’re in a hurry to get somewhere or you’re running late. 
  • Always finish with a three to four minute cool down and some light stretching to increase flexibility and decrease muscle soreness. 
  • Always listen to your body because exercise should feel good! If you’re completely fatigued after exercising, you probably worked too hard.
 “The American Heart Association recommends 150 to 300 minutes of exercise each week. Keep track of the minutes you walk each day and shoot for at least 30 minutes/five days a week (150 minutes). You can skip a day of exercise, maybe two, but never skip three days in a row. It is almost like starting over. Increase total exercise time and speed as tolerated. Keep reaching for 300 minutes a week!” Shay says.

So, how does exercise affect heart health?

Shay says, “Exercise is an essential part of heart health and overall well-being. Regular exercise helps to lower cholesterol, maintain blood sugar, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic inflammation, decrease stress and anxiety and is necessary for controlling your weight.  All of these things contribute to heart disease. Your heart is a muscle, and it needs exercise and conditioning to get stronger and work more efficiently.”
I also asked Shay about what people should do if they want to take a crack at the Heart Mini with me, she says, “Walking and running are both excellent for heart health! Depending on your current activity level would depend on your training routine. Before you start walking or running make sure to wear good, comfortable shoes! We called the AHA and were given a great resource for all levels to train for a 5K, 15K, or half marathon. Here are three race sponsors that offer training programs for the events: Fleet FeetTri-State Running, and Queen City Running.”
Getting your exercise in doesn’t necessarily mean you need to join a gym and hop on a machine; it can be as easy as heading outside for a walk.

Click to learn more about how our Outpatient Cardiac Rehab program can help you get back out there!

​​You may have heard radio personality, Amanda Valentine, on B-105's Afternoon Show on weekdays from 3-7 p.m. She also publishes a blog titled Weight a Minute. Amanda has struggled with weight issues her entire life, but in 2012 she started her weight loss journey and now she's lost over 100 pounds. What started as a three-month New Year's resolution challenge with co-workers has evolved into a passion for healthy living. Amanda is excited to share her healthy living tips, tricks, and information with Healthspirations.