Exercise & Fitness

Exercising regularly, every day if possible, is the single most important thing you can do for your health. In the short term, exercise helps to control appetite, boost mood, and improve sleep. In the long term, it reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, dementia, depression, and many cancers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the following:

For adults of all ages

  • At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise like brisk walking or 75 minutes of rigorous exercise like running (or an equivalent mix of both) every week.  It’s fine to break up exercise into smaller sessions as long as each one lasts at least 10 minutes.
  • Strength-training that works all major muscle groups—legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms—at least two days a week.  Strength training may involve lifting weights, using resistance bands, or exercises like push-ups and sit-ups, in which your body weight furnishes the resistance.

For pregnant women

The guidelines for aerobic exercise are considered safe for most pregnant women. The CDC makes no recommendation for strength training. It’s a good idea to review your exercise plan with your doctor.

For children

At least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, most of which should be devoted to aerobic exercise. Children should do vigorous exercise and strength training, such as push-ups or gymnastics, on at least three days every week.

Exercise & Fitness Articles

Easy exercises for couch potatoes

Utilizing time in front of a TV by exercising during commercial breaks can help improve health. That’s because minimizing long periods of inactivity can help reduce the risk of injury and may even increase life span. Simple exercises or “couchersizes” include standing up and sitting down repeatedly to help strengthen quadriceps and gluteal muscles; squeezing a rubber ball to improve grip strength; and stretching the calf muscles to keep them flexible and protect the walking stride. More »

Exercise: 15 minutes a day ups lifespan by 3 years

Exercise produces significant benefit by lowering levels of damaging inflammation that affects heart and artery health. It also improves the body’s ability to fight oxidative stress, reducing vulnerability to heart attack, heart failure, peripheral artery disease, and arrhythmias. In one study, exercising 15 minutes a day for eight years reduced all-cause mortality by 14% and increased life expectancy by three years. Elements of a successful exercise program include aerobic activity, strength training, stretching, and persistence. (Locked) More »

Get a heart monitor

Many people with heart disease are otherwise fit and have been cleared by their doctors for vigorous exercise. But some work out too vigorously, while others aren’t working out hard enough. Proper use of a heart monitor is the best way to get the maximum benefit from exercise. The monitor helps people stay “in the zone”—60% to 70% of peak heart rate. Although the rule of thumb is that peak heart rate is 220 minus your age, it is far more precise to have peak heart rate measured by a physician during a stress test. (Locked) More »

Don't skip cardiac rehab after a heart event

Most people think cardiac rehabilitation is all about exercise. Learning how to start and maintain a personalized physical activity regimen is only part of the program. The cardiac rehabilitation team takes a personalized approach to helping people understand their disease, their medications, the psychological issues that accompany heart problems, and necessary lifestyle changes. Cardiac rehab is proven to reduce cardiac risk factors and increase quality of life, and it’s covered by Medicare and most insurance plans. Yet fewer than 20% of people who would benefit actually enroll in a program. Work is under way to create cardiac rehab programs that are more accessible to a greater number of people with heart disease. (Locked) More »

Heart failure diagnosis: Tools for positive outcomes

The words “heart failure” can be frightening. The condition isn’t actually a failure of the heart, but a compromised ability to pump enough oxygenated blood throughout the body. It can be deadly if untreated. Take proactive steps to improve the quality of life and overall health of a person with heart failure. These include taking medicines as directed; getting regular exercise; watching sodium and fluid intake; eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and lean proteins; tracking weight and any new symptoms daily; and not fixating on ejection fraction. (Locked) More »

Arthritic knees: Exercise can help, but don't overdo it

Exercise to strengthen an arthritic knee reduces pain and stiffness and improves daily functioning. It is important to match the right type and amount of exercise to the arthritis condition. Those with arthritis behind the kneecap should avoid deep knee bends and other moves that require large amounts of flexing the joint. Severe knee arthritis limits the amount of exercise possible. It can help to work with a physical therapist to design an appropriate exercise program that strengthens the knee without causing excessive pain and swelling. (Locked) More »

Before dementia begins: What helps?

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a transitional stage before dementia. There is no treatment yet to stop MCI from progressing, but a healthy lifestyle and optimal medical care may slow it down and improve day-to-day function. This includes exercise and a heart-healthy diet and getting the best medical care for conditions that affect the arteries, like diabetes and heart disease. A special form of therapy called cognitive rehabilitation teaches strategies for working around memory loss and other impairments. There is no FDA-approved medication for MCI, but some doctors are willing to prescribe the drug donepezil (Aricept), which is used to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Dietary supplements do not help prevent MCI from getting worse, but new drugs are being tested in clinical trials that could lead to better treatments. (Locked) More »