Physical Activity

Regular physical activity is recommended for everyone. It can help raise HDL and lower LDL and is especially important for those with high triglyceride and/or low HDL levels who are overweight with a large waist measurement.




Exercise has many favorable effects on cardiovascular risk factors:


  1. Exercise helps control weight.

  2. Exercise helps lower blood pressure.

  3. Aerobic exercise increases your blood HDL cholesterol. Aerobic exercise involves the use of large muscle groups for prolonged periods of time. Examples of aerobic exercise are brisk walking, running stationary or mobile cycling, swimming, cross country skiing, rope skipping, rowing, aerobic dance, etc. BASEBALL, FOOTBALL, BOWLING, AND WEIGHT LIFTING ARE NOT AEROBIC EXERCISES.

  4. Aerobic exercise lowers your blood sugar.

  5. Aerobic exercises increase the efficiency of your heart and lungs, which enables them to do the same amount of work with less effort.

  6. Exercise increases the blood supply to your heart.

  7. Aerobic exercise can decrease your psychological stress, make you feel good, reduce your neuromuscular tension, reduce depression and improve your body image.


There are some risks when you start a formal exercise program. The first major risk is damage to your muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments. These can be reduced by starting an exercise program slowly and advancing the length and intensity of the exercise sessions gradually. Before starting an exercise program, a stress test and doctor’s evaluation should be performed on individuals with known heart disease or symptoms suggesting heart disease.


Not all exercise programs need to be formal. A benefit can be obtained by increasing normal daily activity. For instance, one should take the stairs rather than the elevator when possible. One should use a push mower rather than a self-propelled mower, or park the car a mile from work and walk the last mile, etc.


You should exercise 20-40 minutes per session. The optimum amount of exercising is 5 days per week. Exercising every day is no better for your heart than exercising 5 days per week. Exercising every day of the week produces more injuries to the muscles, bones, etc. than exercising 5 days per week. YOUR BODY NEEDS A LITTLE TIME TO REST AND HEAL.



Injuries are less likely with walking, cycling, or swimming and are the preferred exercises if you have arthritis or have been inactive physically inactive for a long period of time. Injuries can also be reduced by using specially cushioned shoes for walking or jogging.


Prolonged fatigue following a workout may indicate that your sessions are too long, too frequent, or too intense. Your sessions should be reduced in frequency, duration and/or intensity. If chest pain, jaw pain, neck pain, left arm pain, left shoulder pain, “indigestion,” or unusual shortness of breath occur during exercises: SEE YOUR PHYSICIAN IMMEDIATELY.


All types of exercise or physical activity have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular health, weight, and appearance. From a cardiac standpoint, it improves circulation, increases the efficiency of the heart and the respiratory system, and positively alters blood chemistry. Regular exercise promotes fat loss and weight control, tones muscles, and increases strength. It promotes better digestion, stronger bones, sounder sleep, less tension, and a renewed sense of well-being.


All physical activity is beneficial, but type-aerobic exercise is the most effective in promoting weight control and cardiovascular health.


Sample Walking Program

                                                 Target Zone                                             Total

                      Warm up               exercising                  Cool down              time

Week 1

Session A        Walk 5 min           Then walk briskly       Then walk slower     15min

                                                      for 5 min                   for 5 min

Session B Repeat above pattern

Session C Repeat above pattern

Week 2           Walk 5 min           Walk briskly 7 min       Walk 5 min            17min

Week 3           Walk 5 min           Walk briskly 9 min       Walk 5 min            19min

Week 4           Walk 5 min           Walk briskly 11 min     Walk 5 min            21min

Week 5           Walk 5 min           Walk briskly 13 min     Walk 5 min            23min

Week 6           Walk 5 min           Walk briskly 15 min     Walk 5 min            25min

Week 7           Walk 5 min           Walk briskly 18 min     Walk 5 min            28min

Week 8           Walk 5 min           Walk briskly 20 min     Walk 5 min            30min

Week 9           Walk 5 min           Walk briskly 23 min     Walk 5 min            33min

Week 10         Walk 5 min           Walk briskly 26 min     Walk 5 min            36min

Week 11         Walk 5 min           Walk briskly 28 min     Walk 5 min            38min

Week 12         Walk 5 min           Walk briskly 30 min     Walk 5 min            40min

Week 13 on:

Check your pulse periodically to see if you are exercising within your target zone. As you become more fit, try exercising within the upper range of your target zone. Gradually increase your brisk walking time from 30 to 60 minutes, three or four times a week. Remember that your goal is to get the benefits you are seeking and enjoy your activity.

What are some examples of activities and their intensity levels?

Walking up stairs burns almost five times more calories than riding an elevator.

Time Depends on Intensity

Higher intensity activities require less time spent. Lower intensity activities require more time spent.

Light-Intensity Activities:

  • Walking slowly

  • Golf, powered cart

  • Swimming, slow treading

  • Gardening or pruning

  • Bicycling, very light effort

  • Dusting or vacuuming

  • Conditioning exercise, light stretching or warm up

Moderate-Intensity Activities:

  • Walking briskly

  • Golf, pulling or carrying clubs

  • Swimming, recreational

  • Mowing lawn, power motor

  • Tennis, doubles

  • Bicycling 5 to 9 mph, level terrain, or with a few hills

  • Scrubbing floors or washing windows

  • Weight lifting, Nautilus machines or free weights

Vigorous-Intensity Activities:

  • Racewalking, jogging or running

  • Swimming laps

  • Mowing lawn, hand mower

  • Tennis, singles

  • Bicycling more than 10 mph, or on steep uphill terrain

  • Moving or pushing furniture

  • Circuit training



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