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The most important thing you can do for heart health
The most important thing you can do for heart health

The most important thing you can do for heart health

Thursday, March 28, 2024


Did you know the heart is considered an organ and a muscle?  

And you know what they say about muscles … use it or lose it. 


It’s never too early to start thinking about taking care of your heart, but lots of people wonder: Where do I begin? The list of bad habits and activities that increase the risk of heart disease runs vast and deep — unhealthy eating, inactivity, smoking, stress and sleep issues, according to the Mayo Clinic. Attempting to make changes in all these categories at once can feel overwhelming, and that can lead a person back to their couch, ignoring their doctor’s advice.  


So, what’s the No. 1 thing you can start doing tomorrow for the future of your heart’s health? Start moving (after you finish this article, of course). 


Sounds simple, right? And it is. Heart conscious individuals don’t need to start pumping iron at the gym all day, every day. Research on the Heart Foundation website suggests a daily exercise routine with at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity will help prevent heart disease. Living a sedentary lifestyle proves to be one of the top five major risk factors for cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association. Staying active can reduce many risk factors, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stress and being overweight.  


Ready to bring some recreational activity into your days? Try one of these fun five ideas: 

  • Pickleball 

  • Hiking 

  • Swimming 

  • Cycling 

  • Yoga classes 


When initiating a heart-healthy change, choose enjoyable activities that can be shared with friends. Together, friends can stay accountable and motivated. 


Feel too busy to add in a 30+ minute exercise routine? Don’t worry. It doesn’t need to be 30 consecutive minutes. Incorporating shorter periods of activity into the day can also boost heart health.  


To integrate more movement into an established schedule, try boosting movement by: 

  1. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator. 

  2. Increasing the length and pace of your dog walk. 

  3. Push mowing the lawn and performing yard work.  

  4. Using dumbbells while watching TV. 

  5. Riding a bike or walking to a nearby errand instead of driving.  


As the adage says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” So, pick one small, realistic step to add more movement into the day, and you’re on your way to a healthier heart.   


Before starting any new exercise routine, always talk to your doctor.  


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Genesis HealthCare System’s Health and Wellness content conveniently provides accurate and helpful information. Your health history and current health may impact suggestions provided through our Health and Wellness content. Although we hope this information is helpful, it is not a substitute for your doctor's medical advice. Before making any significant changes, please consult your doctor.