American Heart Month – Let’s Talk Cardio


American Heart Month – Let’s Talk Cardio

Early in the new year many of my patients tell me they want to work on exercise, but they don’t know where to start. Some people hear the word “exercise” and have negative associations (junior high gym class anyone?) and others just don’t know where to start. February is American Heart Month so it’s a great time to review some of the recommendations around exercise. Today I’ll tackle aerobic activity, and in my next post, I’ll discuss strength training.

So – let’s talk “cardio” – also known as “aerobic” activity. This is any activity that gets your heart beating faster and speeds up your breathing. The goal is to get either 150 minutes a week of “moderate” intensity activity or 75 minutes a week of “vigorous” intensity activity. You can combine the two – just give yourself credit for 2 minutes of moderate activity for every minute of vigorous activity you do.

Some examples of moderate activity – these should get your heart rate and breathing up to the point where you can talk but not sing.

  • Brisk walking
  • Water aerobics
  • Biking on level ground
  • Even blogging while riding a stationary bike in your office counts!

Examples of vigorous intensity exercise – these activities should make it hard to talk more than a few words

  • Jogging or running
  • Swimming labs
  • Riding a bike on hills
What If I Don’t Like Walking or Jogging or Biking? 

Any activity that gets you moving and heart rate up can count – dancing, chores like washing the car, chasing the kids around the park, pickleball, etc. – all can count to your goals.

If 150 minutes a week seems like a lot, don’t feel like you have to hit this target your first week – it’s okay to build up to this goal! You also don’t have to do these minutes all at once. Start with adding 5-10 minutes at a time – maybe take a brisk walk at lunch or hop on a stationary bike while watching TV. I admit it is challenging to multitask with this intensity of exercise – I’m writing this very blog post while on a stationary bike here in the office and I certainly can’t type and keep my effort up in the “moderate” range for long!

Dr. Elizabeth Cilenti

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