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Aerobic Exercise for a Healthy Heart

Exercise is a lot more than an energy booster and a stress reliever. It also strengthens your heart muscle, lowers your blood pressure and cholesterol, and burns calories.

Man in swimming pool, smiling.
Remember, some activity is better than none.
Choose an aerobic activity

Choose a nonstop activity that makes your heart and lungs work harder than they do when you rest or walk normally. This aerobic exercise can improve the way your heart and other muscles use oxygen. Make it fun by exercising with a friend and choosing an activity you enjoy. Here are some ideas:

  • Walking

  • Swimming

  • Bicycling

  • Stair climbing

  • Dancing

  • Jogging

Exercise regularly

If you haven’t been exercising regularly,  get your doctor’s okay first. Then start slowly.  Here are some tips:

  • Begin exercising 3 times a week for 5–10 minutes at a time.

  • When you feel comfortable, add a few minutes each session.

  • Slowly build up to exercising 3–5 times each week for 20–40 minutes. Aim for a total of 150 or more minutes a week.

  • If you have been given nitroglycerine, be sure to carry it when you exercise.

  • If you get angina when you’re exercising, stop what you’re doing, take your nitroglycerin, and call your doctor.

Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Online Medical Reviewer: Petersen, Sheralee, MPAS, PA-C
Last Review Date: 3/15/2013
© 2000-2014 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.