Skip to content

Exercise for Heart Health

Exercise for Heart Health

By Eric Sokolowski, DPT, CSCS, CMPT

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death globally. While the prevalence of this disease increases with age, there is a 50% lifetime risk of CVD at the age of just 30, if one or more risk factors is present.

It’s a sobering statistic.

Thankfully, following a healthy lifestyle can help. In addition to lowering your risk of death from CVD by 25%, physical exercise protects you from all-cause mortality by increasing weight loss, improving insulin resistance, lowering blood pressure, and raising good cholesterol levels (HDL).

You probably already know this.

While I don’t have any statistics to back up this claim, I can safely assume that most people agree that exercise is good for you. It helps to control weight, combats health conditions and diseases (including CVD!), improves mood, boosts energy, promotes better sleep, etc. So, what gives? Knowing why (and how) to exercise isn’t enough. For many Americans, exercise is just simply easier said than done.

Sound familiar?

These tips will help you start an exercise routine you enjoy. And, who knows, if you enjoy it, you may just stick with it, too!

Step 1: Goal Setting – make it realistic, measurable, specific, and timely

      • “This month, I will walk three times per week for 30-minutes each”

Step 2: Feedback and Self-Monitoring

      • Create a checklist and assess it periodically

Step 3: Accountability

      • Assign an accountability buddy or write a contract for yourself

Step 4: Habit Forming

    1. Make it Obvious
      • Place workout clothes in front of the bed the night before
    2. Habit Stacking (exercise before a current habit)
      • Walk before watching the morning news
    3. Make it Easy
      • Choose low equipment/cost options
    4. Make it Satisfying
      • Choose exercises you enjoy and reward yourself

Important! The best defense against CVD is a combination of both exercise and diet. Check out Amanda Perriello’s tips about how to follow a heart-healthy diet for the prevention and management of CVD. And, if you’re interested in learning more, check out our interactive, virtual session on Diet & Exercise for Heart Health