How Exercise can help you

How can exercise help your heart?

The heart is a muscle and it needs exercise to keep fit so that it can pump blood efficiently round your body with each heart beat.

Physical activity improves your physical and mental health. It is one of the most important factors in maintaining a good quality of life.

Before you start exercising, it's important to seek advice from your doctor especially if you have any condition for which you are taking prescribed medication.

"Physical activity improves your physical and mental health”

Being physically active might involve going swimming, doing an exercise class or playing a sport, but it also includes everyday things such as walking, gardening and climbing stairs.

You can get the benefits of being more active from all types of physical activity. Any increase in activity will benefit your health.

Get moving!

Aim to build up to at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity five or more days a week. During moderate exercise you should be breathing more heavily than normal and feel slightly warmer.

If 30 minutes seems too much for you at the moment, build up slowly. Here are some ideas:

  • Start with five minutes exercise at least three times a day and start slowly at a level that suits you.
  • Gradually build up the time and frequency until 30 minutes feels easier.
  • Choose a variety of activities and ones you enjoy.
  • Try to do something every day.
  • Stop exercising if you feel pain or discomfort.

It's never too late to start. Everyone can benefit - whatever your age, size or physical condition. Just remember that you are never too old or too unfit to start doing something.

The good news is that the greatest increase in health benefit is experienced by inactive people who start to take regular moderate physical activity. Your health risks will decrease as soon as you start to do more!

Copyright © 2007 British Heart Foundation

This information has been provided by the British Heart Foundation, the nation's heart charity that focuses on investing in pioneering research, supporting and caring for heart patients and providing vital information to help people reduce their own risk of dying prematurely from a heart or circulatory related illness.

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Swimming and Cycling

Everyday CyclingEveryday Cycling offers a comprehensive database of Routes and Rides. You will also find details of cycling events and interactive features such as Activity Logs and Buddy Groups to inspire you to get pedaling!

SwimfitSwimfit, a British Swimming project, is full of advice and fun programmes to help you to structure your time in the pool and to encourage you to take the plunge!