According to the American Heart Association, you’ve got to find the time in your day–30 minutes minimum for heart health–to get physically active. But there are plenty of easy, no-cost ways to do it. For those with a tight schedule, the good news is you don’t have to do all 30 minutes at once. You can even get heart-healthy benefits if you divide your time into two or three 10- to 15-minute segments a day. Lifestyle changes like eating more fruits and vegetables, quitting smoking, and exercising 30 minutes a day can help prevent 80% of heart disease.
“Building physical activity back into our daily lives is one of the great public health challenges of this century,” said Russell Pate, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Exercise at the University of South Carolina. “Our bodies were designed to be physically active, and they don’t do well with long-term exposure to sedentary living. Lack of physical activity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.”
Here are ten tips for getting active:
2. Take your child for a brisk walk. It’s an excellent way to get some one-on-one time (or one-on-three, depending on the size of your brood.) Spice up your routine by exploring new neighborhoods or turning your walk into a scavenger hunt.
3. Mall walk. Are you sweating (or shivering) at the idea of walking outside? Take a brisk stroll around your local mall instead. Window shop, people watch and give your heart a workout in a climate-controlled environment.
4. Join a team. Pick an activity you love and round up some friends. Team sports can be fun — and keep you motivated and accountable.
5. Walk and talk. Even if you’re glued to your phone for work calls, you don’t have to be glued to your seat. Make it a habit to talk and walk. Some workplaces have walking paths to make it even easier to burn while you earn.
6. Tune into fitness during TV time. Reject your inner couch potato. Walk, jog in place or use the treadmill at the gym while you watch your favorite 30-minute show.
7. Park and walk. How many times have you circled the parking lot to find “the” spot? Spare yourself the stress and gain more energy by parking far away (or even in a remote lot) and walking farther to your destination.
8. Take the stairs. The elevator may go up — but it doesn’t make your heart rate climb. Take the stairs instead. You may huff and puff at first, but over time, your body will thank you.
9. Dance! Do it in a ballroom, at a club or even in your living room. You’ll burn calories and gain a new hobby.
10. Skip the cake, say goodbye to pie and take a walk after dinner. You’ll get a reward that’s sweeter than dessert: more family time.
If these ideas don’t work for you, find something that you enjoy. Ditching the excuses can be the first step to a healthier you. Of course, if you have an injury, talk to your doctor first to see if there’s a low-impact exercise you can do or find out if you should wait until you’re healed.
And here’s more food for thought: “Our culture no longer requires us to be hunters and gathers, but our bodies still need the physical activity that is required by that way of life,” Russell said. So check out these tips to get moving today!
For more tips and resources to get heart healthy, visit www.heart.org/gettinghealthy.