Search icon

HOW TO PLAN AND START A BASIC EXERCISE PROGRAM

You’ve probably heard a lot about the benefits of exercise. But there’s so much information out there on how to exercise, and how often.

Where do you start?

Here are some exercise basics to keep in mind – but be sure to talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise routine.

large red quotation marks

The first thing to do before you start any exercise routine is to talk to your doctor.

Once you’re clear to begin, find a physical activity that you enjoy. Remember, anything that gets you moving and burns off calories is physical activity.

A heart-healthy workout plan should contain three types of exercise.

  1. Aerobic exercise gets your heart rate up, and includes activities like walking, jogging, swimming or biking. You should be moving fast enough to get your heart beating faster and your breathing heavier. To help, consider getting a heart-rate monitor or other wearable device that helps you track your pulse while you exercise.
  2. Strength training includes weight lifting, resistance bands, and even yoga. These exercises build lean body mass, increase your energy level, and can help you burn calories more efficiently.
  3. Stretching before and after exercising helps prevent injury and muscle strain. Tai chi and yoga are also great for flexibility, balance, and a better range of motion.

How often?

To get the most benefit to your heart, try to get moderate exercise most days of the week, starting with small amounts and building up to 30 to 40 minutes of continuous activity. If you prefer, you can divide it into 10-minute increments throughout the day. There are lots of ways you can go beyond the exercise basics to work exercise into your daily routine.

Once you get a daily exercise routine going, be sure to mix it up every so often to stay motivated.

THE HEART HEALTH RISK TOOL1

LEARN YOUR RISK OF A HEART ATTACK OR STROKE

Do you know your risk factors?2 Find out and get a personalized heart-healthy action plan to share with your doctor.

Scale from low to high with indicator over high Scale from low to high with indicator over high
LOW
MODERATE
ELEVATED
HIGH

HEART ATTACK SURVIVOR STORIES