Did you make New Year's resolutions to exercise? More than a third of Americans who made goals for the new year have already abandoned them, often getting discouraged over the time and effort it takes to meet the official exercise goals.
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of Americans, and the American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week divided into 30 minutes five times a week. But many busy, hard-working Americans find it difficult to devote that much time to exercise, and sometimes completely give up.
Don't give up, says Dr. Gretchen Wells, director of women's heart health at the University of Kentucky's Gill Heart Institute. You don't need dedicated sessions at the gym or long, strenuous runs. Your daily activity can go a long way toward meeting your goals.
"You reduce your risk of heart attack by 50 percent if you get 150 minutes of activity a week — or 30 minutes for five out of seven days," Wells said. "That doesn't have to come with a gym membership or fancy, expensive equipment. A brisk walk can be just as effective in reducing heart attack risk."
In fact, said Wells, you don't even have to go on walks to help meet your goals. Just everyday household chores can take up a significant chunk of that goal.
Daily activities like vacuuming, dusting, mowing the lawn, washing the car, and gardening can help you meet your goal. And don't forget those long treks through superstores when shopping. Dancing can be a wonderful, relaxing way to exercise.
Fitness instructor Allison Perry found how being active throughout the day can be as beneficial as a strenuous workout.
"One day I had a mostly sedentary day at my desk, but taught a high-intensity kickboxing class at the end of the day," she said.
"The next day I walked around a lot at work and taught a spin class, but off the bike. I actually walked more steps and burned more calories on the second day, even though the first day was the day I went to the gym," said Perry.
"There's clearly a tremendous benefit to moving around all day."
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