Reduce heart disease risk through exercise

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)  Baystate Medical Center’s on a mission to get people to use exercise to reduce their risk for heart disease.

February is “American Heart Month.”

“Clinical studies have shown that those who incorporate exercise into their daily routines are half as likely to develop coronary artery disease and may lower their risk of  stroke or dying from Heart disease by as much as one-third,” said Baystate Medical Center exercise physiologist Christopher Higgins.

Clinical exercise physiologist Heidi Szalai told 22News medical experts now consider exercise a medical therapy, not just for weight loss but to improve blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes risk.

“All of these things that we take a medication for , actually exercise is something that is really important to incorporate because it will lower all these numbers that we are trying to work toward with just our medicine,” said Szalai.

Szalai recommends shooting for a goal of 150 minutes of exercise per week, which could be broken down to a half hour per day over five days.  That could be even further broken down to 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon.

Szalai urges people to start out easy with a cardio-vascular activity you like, such as walking, biking, rowing or swimming.   She said it’s helpful to incorporate a buddy system and exercise with someone with whom you enjoy walking and talking.

Szalai said it’s important to set a goal.  “It may be something as simple as ‘I want to be there for my grandchildren.  I want to be as active as I can so i can participate in the activities with them.”

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