How Long Should I Exercise?
The type of exercise you choose will be based upon your personal goals and underlying heart condition.
The benefit of any therapy in cardiology (in medicine) is based upon whether we have underlying heart disease. This is an important issue that I will remind you of repeatedly. For example, someone who has no heart disease does not benefit from what I describe above (or aspirin or statins, etc.) anywhere as much as someone with who has had a heart attack, bypass surgery, coronary stents, stroke, or a weak heart.
Bottom line: the more significant is your heart condition, the more changes in your risk factors (HTN, DM, Cholesterol) and exercise will benefit.
For someone who has no heart disease or very minimal heart disease, a simple walking program of 30 minutes 5 days a week is the best place to start. You can then build upon this to add any type of exercise that you can consistently perform.
Those who have heart disease should strive for one hour of walking (treadmill, elliptical, swimming) 5 days a week.
What is The Best Type of Exercise for Cardiac Patients?
The type of exercise I advocate is a slow, gentle walking pace--as if you were window shopping at your local mall. Not race walking. Not even walking up inclines. I do not advocate monitoring heart rate.
For those still working, I'd give you an A+ if you walk 20 minutes 5 days a week!
Try to create an exercise program that you will actually follow. Similar to my answer to ‘what’s the best diet?’ I advocate performing 'lowest common denominator'. In other words, imagine that you've had a long stressful day, just got home after sitting in traffic for an hour...you’re stressed out and tired…and you don’t feel’ like exercising. I 100% guarantee that you will not being going to your gym or aerobics class that evening. But you may be open to taking a simple 20 minutes walk around the block at a slow, leisurely pace with your family after dinner!
Of course, if you can jog, swim, do aerobic classes, etc. -- even better. I don't discourage, but I also do not advocate. Why? It's because more vigorous programs are hard to maintain. We get injured, discouraged...then folks tell me that they haven't 'done anything' in six months.
Should I buy a FitBit or Apple Watch?
Fitbits, apple watches, iphones and other exercise tracking devices are an excellent way to stay fit. However, don't forget to focus upon continuous exercise, not just total exercise. In other words, 10,000 steps is great, but I would rather you perform 5,000 steps at one time vs. 10,000 steps broken up.
Keep up the good work!
Gregg Yamada MD
Disclaimer: I hope you find my medical blogs to be educational, pertinent, interesting, and thought provoking. The information provided is educational and should not be taken as medical advice. I am a doctor, but I am not your doctor. Please schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss these issues and to determine what is right for you.
© 2022. Gregg M. Yamada, MD FACC. All rights reserved