- It increases your physical fitness and helps reduce problems such as breathlessness and angina that might otherwise stop you doing the things you enjoy.
- It helps strengthen muscles, boosting their ability to draw oxygen from your blood and reducing the need for your heart to work harder.
- It reduces chronic inflammation, one of the key causes of heart and circulatory disorders.
- It improves your mood and your overall sense of well-being. It also helps reduce stress and anxiety, which release hormones that put an extra burden on the heart.
- It lowers your blood pressure – both at rest and when exercising.
- It improves your cholesterol ratios, reducing harmful LDL cholesterol and boosting good HDL cholesterol.
- Coupled with a healthy diet, it can help you control your weight and stop or slow your risk of developing Type II diabetes. And if you do have Type II diabetes, it can help normalise blood sugar levels.
- It reduces the risk of blood clots and heart arrhythmia.
- It improves your quality of life and reduces your risk of future heart events and other health problems.
How much exercise do you need?
The good news is that you don’t have to spend hours every day in the gym to start seeing the benefits of regular exercise. The key thing is to reduce the amount of time you spend sitting. Even moderate activity, such as brisk walking, helps boost your fitness.
Current medical guidelines say we should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate activity a week – that’s things like brisk walking, cycling or swimming. Or you can choose to do 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week (eg running, taking the stairs, or sports such as tennis), or a combination of both.
For all-round fitness, the guidelines say we also need to focus on strength and balance, particularly as we get older. So they recommend doing strength-building exercises a couple of times a week, along with activities that help improve balance.
It sounds like a lot to fit in, but the good news is our cardiac rehab exercise classes cover all three aspects, with a circuit-based programme that helps you build aerobic fitness, strength and balance.
Attend just one class a week (60 mins) and you’ll be well on your way to achieving your totals!