Regular exercise can help ensure a happy and healthy heart

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By Michelle Russell, Exercise Therapist and Devona Young, MSN, RN, ProMedica Cardiac Rehabilitation

        Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, however, living a healthy lifestyle can help greatly reduce the risk of a cardiac event.
        Exercise is a great way to strengthen your heart. Something as simple as walking around the neighborhood can have a positive impact on your health.
        Exercise can be for anyone, even those who have experienced a cardiac event in the past year if they participate in cardiac rehabilitation.
        Boosting your heart health through exercise
        For the average adult, the American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes, or 2.5 hours, of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week. Ideally, a combination of moderate-intensity and vigorous-intensity exercise would occur throughout the week.
        Moderate-intensity exercise can be anything from brisk walking, water aerobics, dancing, pickleball or cycling. Moderate-intensity exercise will cause your heart to beat faster, and you’ll breathe harder than normal but should still be able to have a conversation.
        On the other hand, vigorous aerobic exercise would include activities such as running, swimming laps, heavy yard work, tennis or jumping rope. With vigorous aerobic exercise, holding a conversation without getting out of breath will become more difficult.
        If you are beginning a new exercise routine, it is okay to gradually work up to the recommended exercise target. Any regular physical activity can contribute to strengthening your heart.
        Exercising after a heart attack or other cardiac event
        For people who have experienced a heart attack or heart surgery, the thought of exercising can be overwhelming. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 800,000 people in the U.S. each year will have a heart attack, and about one in four of those people have already had a previous heart attack.
        Cardiac rehabilitation is a program for patients who have experienced a major cardiac event such as a heart attack, open-heart surgery, stent placement, heart transplant, heart failure, valve repairs and replacements. During your time at cardiac rehabilitation, a team of physicians, exercise therapists and nurses are available to build a plan around returning to normal activity and developing an exercise plan that is safe for the patient’s specific condition. Patients also receive education on how to live a healthier lifestyle, which can include diet education and information on how to lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
        According to the CDC, studies have found that cardiac rehabilitation decreases the chance a patient will die in the five years following a heart attack or bypass surgery by about 35%. If you have experienced a cardiac event within the last year, speak with your provider to find out if you qualify for cardiac rehabilitation and experience the difference it can make in your overall health and well-being.

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