Exercise is a critical component of good health. In fact, some experts have called it the “magic medicine” when linking exercise and heart health. Whether it’s a simple walk, a family bike ride or an intense workout, exercise plays a significant role in the reduction of certain diseases. So, if you’re at your ideal weight or 20 pounds overweight, participating in some form of exercise has benefits in areas of heart disease, diabetes and joint health.
Can you spare 30 minutes a day?
A study by Dr. Mike Evans, founder of the Health Design Lab, reveals that 30 minutes of exercise a day is the single best thing you can do for your health. In his educational video, Evans asks the question: “Can you limit your sitting and sleeping to just 23 and a half hours a day?”
Evans’ research shows that a woman who goes from no activity at all to one hour of exercise per week can reduce her risk of heart disease by almost half. Other research has linked sitting for long periods of time — whether watching TV or sitting at a desk — with a number of health concerns, including increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels.
Sit less, move more
Too much sitting also seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. According to one study that compared adults who spent fewer than two hours a day in front of the TV or other screen-based entertainment with those who whose recreational screen time exceeded four hours a day, the latter group had a 125 percent increased risk of events associated with cardiovascular disease, such as chest pain (angina) or heart attack
The solution? Sit less and move more. Minimize your screen time at home, and if your job has you sitting for much of the day, try these tips:
- Stand while talking on the phone or eating lunch.
- If you work at a desk for long periods of time, try a standing desk — or improvise with a high table or counter.
- Ask your colleagues to join you for a walking meeting instead of sitting in a conference room.
- Look into a treadmill desk – a concept that is growing in popularity.
- Sit on a stability ball for a portion of the day to promote movement.
- Invest in an under-the-desk stair-stepper, cycle or elliptical machine. All allow you to move as you work at your desk.
Take the next step:
- Be sure to see your healthcare provider before starting an exercise program if you have heart disease or risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, family history of heart disease, smoking habit, obesity or abnormal glucose tolerance.
The University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is the top-ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit our website at umcvc.org.