Home > Health Library > Heart Disease: Walking for a Healthy Heart
Walking is a form of aerobic exercise
and is one of the easiest ways to increase your physical activity and improve
your health. Physical activity increases your
heart rate, strengthens your heart, and increases
blood circulation through your body, bringing more oxygen and nutrients to your
organs. Exercise also increases your lungs' ability to take in oxygen, lowers
blood pressure, helps to reduce body fat, and improves blood sugar and
Try to make a walk an essential part of your day. It's fine to walk for
10 minutes or more at a time throughout your day and week. Being active in
small blocks of time throughout your day can be just as good as walking for a
longer amount of time a few times a week. Accumulating activity throughout the
day helps burn calories and maintain your weight.
activities such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking far
away and walking to your destination can add up quickly to the minimum
recommendation of 2½ hours a week. Be creative. Instead of emailing or phoning
a coworker, get up and walk to his or her desk. If you need to meet with
someone, suggest taking a walk instead of staying inside.
the heart-healthy benefits of walking, you need to walk briskly enough to
increase your pulse and breathing, but not so fast that you can't talk
It isn't necessary to walk a certain amount of time
each day. I can be active in blocks of time that work best for me throughout
the day and week.
Experts recommend at least 2½ hours a week of
moderate exercise, which is equal to brisk walking. But it isn't necessary to
do it all at once. It's fine to be active in several blocks of 10 minutes or
more at a time. For example, you could walk twice a week for at least 1 hour and
15 minutes at a time. Or you could walk 10 minutes 3 times a day, at least 5 days
Continue to Why?
Your heart is a
muscle with fibers that allow it to contract and pump blood. When used during
aerobic exercise, the heart becomes more efficient and pumps more blood with
each heartbeat. Exercise, such as walking, also increases your muscles' ability
to take oxygen from the blood. A more efficient heart can pump more blood with
each heartbeat and deliver more oxygen and nutrients to other organs.
Walking is a form of aerobic exercise that elevates
the heart rate and increases the efficiency of the heart.
Walking briskly increases your heart rate and
increases the efficiency of your heart. A more efficient heart can pump more
blood through your body, which circulates more blood and nutrients to other
Continue to How?
of the best ways to stay motivated to walk is to include other people. Ask
friends and coworkers to join you. Join a walking group or club.
Buying a pedometer or step counter is an easy way to
motivate yourself to walk more.
A pedometer or step counter can help you
determine how active (or inactive) you are throughout the day. After you know
your level of activity, you can set goals to increase your steps, and your
fitness, throughout the day.
Continue to Where?
Now that you have read this
information, you are ready to plan a walking program that suits you.
you have questions about this information, take it with you when you visit your
If you would like more information on cardiac
rehabilitation, the following resources are available:
Visit the American Heart Association (AHA) website for information on
physical activity, diet, and various heart-related conditions. You can search for information on heart disease and stroke, share information with friends and family, and use tools to help you make heart-healthy goals and plans. Contact the AHA to find your
nearest local or state AHA group. The AHA provides brochures and information
about support groups and community programs, including Mended Hearts, a
nationwide organization whose members visit people with heart problems and
provide information and support.
Return to topic:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2008). 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (ODPHP Publication No. U0036). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Available online: http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/default.aspx.
Other Works Consulted
American College of Sports Medicine (2010). Exercise prescription for patients with cardiac disease. In WR Thompson et al., eds., ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, 8th ed., pp. 207–224. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
September 27, 2012
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & John A. McPherson, MD, FACC, FSCAI - Cardiology
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