Want to keep your arteries clear and your heart beating strong? Integrative cardiologist Joel K. Kahn, MD, coaches his patients to adopt easy exercise routines with these motivating tricks.
First, stop telling me you have no time to exercise.
It’s the top excuse I hear from patients when I suggest they get moving. But you do have enough time; what you really need is motivation. Too often people think of exercise in black or white categories: “thirty minutes” or “no minutes.” In reality, any minutes of movement are better than none. Here are some of my favorite tricks to get patients started on exercise routine.
Don’t ignore exercise.
It’s powerful medicine for your heart and arteries. It strengthens your cardiovascular system, allowing the heart to pump more blood with less effort. It keeps your arteries elastic and flexible, which allows them to expand to accommodate blood flow, which reduces blood pressure. It makes your tissues more sensitive to insulin, which means cells throughout your body more easily absorb and burn blood sugar for energy. It helps lower levels of triglycerides, tiny packages of fat that float around in the bloodstream. Exercise also helps tamp down inflammation and prevents blood clotting, which can lead to stroke, heart attack, and other problems. Finally, exercise creates physiological changes in the brain that lead to an increased sense of well-being, confidence, and an improved mood. And it’s not as hard as you might think. Here are 6 ways exercise betters your brain.
Take a 5-minute walk.
It’s true that the American Heart Association recommends that we plan 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise. But if you can’t always meet this goal, should you do none at all? No! Less activity than the AHA guideline is still beneficial. Even a five-minute walk will bring you some amazing health benefits. What’s most important is this: get started.
For one study, researchers followed the health habits and outcomes of more than 400,000 people for eight years. They found that the people with low levels of physical activity (they averaged about 15 minutes of exercise a day) showed a 14 percent reduction in death compared with the completely inactive group. People who were more active showed even lower mortality.