Since the first of January, it seems television has been running a non-stop marathon of infomercials and advertisements for weight loss programs, gym memberships and home exercise equipment. You can’t watch a TV program without seeing at least one advertisement for either a local gym or piece of fitness equipment, all of which are staffed by picture perfect models with toned, lean healthy bodies, smiling as they exercise without so much as breaking a sweat. It’s almost enough to make me grab a bag of potato chips and head back for the couch!
I have to remind myself that I don’t look like the models. Frankly, even when I was young and thin I never achieved that level of apparent fitness as displayed in the infomercials so I can’t use those models as a comparison or a discouragement. What I need, however, is to achieve a healthy level of fitness. In particular, I need an exercise program that will lead me in a path toward a healthier heart. With so many exercise options available, I had to wonder which one is right for me. Since exercise is not my thing (I really hate to sweat), what type of exercise program is going to give me the best return on my exercise investment, the best bang for my exercise buck, in terms of heart health, and how often should I do it?
My aunt recently shared a cartoon with me where a doctor says to a patient, “Which would you rather do? Exercise for one hour a day or be dead for 24 hours a day?” It was only a cartoon joke but the root of most of these types of cartoons is the truth. No matter where you look, all experts seem to agree that being active on a day-to-day basis is a good thing in terms of our heart health. The Mayo Clinic recommends that for your heart health, you need to engage in 30 to 60 minutes of moderate exercise a day. Depending on your current fitness level, even 30 minutes of exercise may be too much to start. If that’s the case, or if it's a challenge to find a 30 to 60 minute time block for exercise, you can break it up into 10 or 15 minutes segments. According to the Mayo Clinic, as long as the activity level remains moderate, your heart will still benefit.