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Find simple ways to get more exercise into your daily routine.

Exercise doesn't have to be a workout in a fitness center. Plenty of daily activities can be made more challenging, and therefore more heart-healthy.

Every day, it seems, a new study emerges that underscores the benefits of exercise. From muscle and bone strengthening to mood and energy boosts, exercise is a key to better physical and mental health.

But the heart-health benefits of exercise may be the most significant rewards of staying active. For example, regular exercise can help you:

* Manage your weight

* Lower your blood pressure

* Improve your sleep

* Lower your cholesterol

* Strengthens your heart muscle

* Improve your circulation

* Lower your blood glucose levels

"I always say to my patients that even 10 minutes a day of moderate exercise can make a difference," says Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Christine Jellis, MD. "Even seemingly small amounts of activity, such as walking around the block, walking the dog, or parking the car a little bit farther away from your office counts. This way, you're making sure your body is getting a bit of regular exercise."

Setting goals

The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week. But rather than bunch a lot of activity up into a weekend, spread out your exercise during the week. Research suggests that you derive greater benefits from exercise if you are active throughout the day, every day. But if you schedule isn't conducive to that, do whatever you can do to become more active.

Dr. Jellis notes that exercising for a few minutes here and a few minutes there will start to add up, and you'll soon see and feel the results.

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If your physical health doesn't allow for walks or other workouts of 30 to 45 minutes at a time, think about 5-or 10-minute workouts. Taking five 5-minute walks a day is a good start, especially if you've been fairly sedentary in recent years. As your fitness improves, you can start to lengthen the time spent exercising.

Everyday exercise

One way Dr. Jellis suggests boosting your exercise time is to add a little extra effort to the activities you do every day. Park a little farther away from the store so you have to walk more. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk nine holes of golf instead of taking an electric cart. Exercise and stretch while watching television.

"I think you have to find something that you can integrate with your regular routine," Dr. Jellis says. "Try to make it something fun that you're going to enjoy. Before long, it's simply part of your regular lifestyle and you're not even thinking about the fact that you started this to optimize your health."

Some studies have shown that people who work out in the morning are more likely to stick with their exercise routine than those who try to exercise later in the day or fit it in wherever and whenever they can. Morning exercise also gives up a little energy boost for the rest of the day.

But again, the key is to move more, however you can fit that into your life.

Be smart

If you have hypertension or a heart condition or a physical challenge such as knee arthritis, be sure to talk about safe exercise options with your doctor. There may be certain precautions you should take or signs of trouble you should be aware of before you start. Symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath while exercising are red flags and should be discussed with your doctor.

When you start exercising, add to those heart-healthy benefits by quitting smoking, eating a healthier diet and limiting alcohol consumption. Do all these things, and you'll start to feel better almost immediately.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

To get more daily exercise:

* Walk while talking on the telephone.

* Buy a simple home treadmill or stationary bike. You don't need one with all the bells and whistles.

* Take tennis lessons or sign up for an aerobics class or dance lessons. When you have even a small investment in an activity, you're more likely to pursue it.

* Make a few extra laps around the mall when you're shopping.

* Participate in active play with your grandchildren, such as swimming or bike riding.
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Title Annotation:FITNESS
Publication:Heart Advisor
Date:Jul 1, 2016
Words:705
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