Need some motivation to maintain your commitment to this heart ‑friendly exercise? Try these suggestions.
Taking a daily walk is a great way to keep your heart and blood vessels healthy. This simple, do-anywhere exercise can lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, and control blood sugar. "Walking for 20 to 30 minutes a day can cut your risk of heart disease by about 30%," says Dr. Lauren Elson, a physiatrist at Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Network.
But if your regular neighborhood jaunt starts feeling a little humdrum, you might need some extra inspiration to keep lacing up your walking shoes each day. If you’re interested in further enhancing your cardiovascular health, add some short bursts of fast walking to your workout, suggests Dr. Elson, who is the medical editor of the Harvard Special Health Report Walking for Health (/WALK). If you always walk at the same pace, your body adapts to that activity level, and the heart-related benefits start to plateau. Alternating short periods of fast walking with equal or longer periods of slower walking (a practice known as interval training) can ramp up your cardiac fitness in a shorter amount of time. Other strategies you can try (alone or in combination with interval training) include distractions or goals — along the journey or at the destination.
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About the Author
Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter
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