Exercise for Your Heart Health

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Regular exercise is good for your health. A moderate amount of activity performed three to five days per week can:

  • Improve your heart health
  • Improve your heart disease risk factors
  • Improve your strength and feeling of well-being

Improve your heart health

  • Reduce the risk of dying from heart disease
  • Help your heart and cardiovascular system work more efficiently
  • Decrease symptoms of angina (chest discomfort) and heart failure

Improve your heart disease risk factors

  • Reduce risk of developing diabetes and high blood pressure
  • Improve blood sugar tolerance if you have diabetes
  • Help control high blood pressure, by as much as 8 to 10 points in both systolic and diastolic pressure.
  • Improve blood lipids (cholesterol, LDL, HDL and triglycerides) along with other strategies (diet and medications).
  • Support efforts to stop smoking
  • Control weight and reduce body fat

Improve your strength and feeling of well-being

  • Helps keep muscles, bones, and joints healthy
  • Increase your ability to do daily activities without getting tired
  • Improve your balance and flexibility
  • Maintain muscle tone, improve your posture, and reduce the risk of falling and fracturing bones
  • Lessen feelings of anxiety or depression
  • Improve your sense of well-being and help you feel good about yourself

To be safe and give you the most benefit, your program should be

  • Aerobic: this type of activity increases the rate and depth of your breathing, raises your heart rate and uses the large muscle groups. Examples include walking, cycling or swimming.
  • Regular: moderate intensity activity performed on most days of the week (starting with small amounts of activity and building up to 30 to 40 minutes of continuous activity, or if you prefer, 10 minutes increments throughout the day to equal 30 to 40 minutes
  • Safe: adults with health problems (such as heart disease, diabetes or obesity) or those at high risk, men over age 40 and women over age 50 should talk with their doctor before starting an exercise program.

Three phases of exercise

Like a recipe, these three phases are the essential ingredients of your exercise session:

For more information about exercise


  • Keeping the Heart Healthy, In (E. Topol, ed.)Cleveland Clinic Heart Book, Hyperion: New York. pp.19-43.

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Reviewed: 12/13

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This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

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