How to Start an Exercise Program

If it’s been awhile since you exercised regularly, you need to make a plan before jumping into a fitness routine. Being physically active is one of the things you can to to lower your risk of heart disease, but you want to make sure that you are exercising properly to minimize the risk of injury.

Before You Start

Before you sign up for an exercise class or a gym membership, make an appointment to see your doctor first. Discuss your plans for getting fit and the types of exercise you are planning to participate in. Ask whether some types of activities, such as lifting weights are off limits or restricted for you. Once you have the approval of your doctor, you can start your new exercise routine. And find out about heart healthy diet options to help ensure your new routine really works!cardiovascular exercise routine photo

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise is better for your heart than stretching or strength training. Regular aerobic activity will strengthen the heart and lungs over time. People who engage in this type of exercise regularly will have a lower blood pressure and respiration rate.

Any activity that gets your heart rate up and keeps it elevated is a good choice. Examples of aerobic exercise include the following:

  • Bicycling
  • Cross-country Skiing
  • Dancing
  • Jogging
  • Jumping Rope
  • Rowing
  • Skating
  • Walking

Start off slowly, and gradually increase the intensity and length of your workouts. You will want to get to the point where you are exercising for 20-30 minutes at a time, three or four times a week. Planning an exercise session every other day can help to keep you on track.

You don’t need to stick with a single aerobic activity to get (and stay) fit. Change up the routine to avoid getting bored or feeling like you are stuck in a rut. Walking is a great choice to start with, since it is easy to do and doesn’t require any special equipment other than a sturdy pair of shoes. As your level of fitness improves, you can start to add other fitness activities into the mix.

Cholesterol Screening Can Help to Prevent Heart Attacks

Most people who experience a heart attack outside of a hospital setting are struck by it in their homes, according to the American Heart Association. People with coronary heart disease are at a high risk for this type of event, and getting your cholesterol checked regularly can help to determine whether you are one of them.

Adults should start getting their cholesterol levels checked when they are 20. If the results are in the normal range (total cholesterol under 200 mg/dl), then the test can be repeated at five year intervals. If the test results show a problem, then doctors can suggest ways to lower the levels to a healthier level.

When making changes to the patient’s diet and increasing physical activity aren’t effective at controlling the cholesterol levels, then the doctor can consider prescribing medications to bring the levels down.

Defibrillators in Public Places Save Lives

When someone goes into cardiac arrest, getting medical help promptly can improve their chance of survival. If defibrillators were installed in more locations where people gather, the patient can get help before the time when they could experience brain damage or die, which is between four and six minutes.

A study released in Circulation on July 29, 2009, found that most cardiac arrests that occurred outside of hospitals occurred in one of these locations:

  • Central Bus Terminals
  • Large Shopping Centers
  • Sports Centers
  • Train Stations

If Automated External Defibrillators, or AEDs, were installed in more public places, as well as schools, then the survival rate for cardiac arrest outside of hospitals would improve. Installing them in areas where large numbers of people meet can save lives. The cost of taking this step seems to be well worth the investment.

Heartburn or Heart Attack? Three Signs to Watch For

Heartburn, which may refer to a burning sensation in the chest or the throat, is usually not serious. When it occurs regularly, it is called Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), and you should see your doctor to get appropriate treatment. Chest pain is something that can be caused by a number of medical conditions, not all of which mean there is something wrong with your heart.

While it would be foolish (and possibly life-threatening) to try to self-diagnose, there are three signs you should be watching out for that tend to indicate that the problem is related to your heart:

  1. Shortness of breath
  2. Palpitations
  3. Sweating

Any of these signs mean that you need to see a doctor, and it’s always a better choice to get checked out and find out it was heartburn than to ignore a more serious condition.