The Heart-Healthy TLC Diet

Get Moving

The second part of the TLC program includes physical activity. Those who don't exercise can put themselves at a higher risk for heart disease. Adding some exercise into your daily life can be beneficial for several reasons, such as managing your weight, lowering your LDL cholesterol levels, and increasing your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels. Other added benefits include improving how your heart and lungs function, lowering your blood pressure, and reducing your risk for diabetes.
However, this doesn't mean you have to start running marathons or become a professional athlete by any means. Some people hear the word "exercise" and they think it is something beyond what they are capable of doing. Just take it a day at a time and don't set unrealistic goals for yourself. Start off slow and focus on being consistent by doing some activity every day. This can include simply taking a walk during your break time or parking at the far end of the parking lot and walking a bit farther than you otherwise would.
As you start getting in the mindset of doing some type of activity every day, you can slowly start to increase your effort. For example, if you enjoy walking, gradually start to lengthen your walks or pick up the pace a bit.
Before you start into a regular exercise program, run it by your healthcare provider first. He or she may have some recommendations for you that may include certain restrictions or limitations. However, unless your healthcare provider tells you differently, you should shoot for at least 30 minutes of a moderate-intensity activity, such as a brisk walk, bicycling, or house cleaning, on most (preferably all) days of the week. If 30 minutes seems a bit overwhelming at first, try breaking it up. Instead of doing 30 minutes all at once, you can do three shorter 10-minute activities.
As you start to get into a good routine, you may decide to add some more intense activities, such as swimming, jogging, aerobics, or tennis.
While an exercise program can be quite beneficial, there are some things to keep in mind as you are sweating away those calories. To help avoid an injury or other problems, it's important to pay attention to some of the warning signals. Although exercise can be beneficial for your heart, some activities may cause existing heart problems to become worse. If you experience any of the following warning signs, seek immediate medical attention:
  • Cold sweat
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Paleness
  • Pain or pressure in your upper body.
Unless your healthcare provider tells you to stop physical activity for certain health reasons, try to keep up your exercise program on a daily basis. If you feel like your physical activity is becoming more of a chore than something you enjoy, try mixing it up. Finding activities you enjoy doing will help to make it something you are more likely to stick with for the long-term. Also, if you feel that you are becoming bored, try asking a friend to work out with you.
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