Physical Activity

Obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes all increase the risk of developing heart disease. Thankfully, research has shown that regular exercise can reduce the risk for all these issues and can therefore, protect against heart disease.

In fact, being fit or active can reduce the risk for heart disease by more than 50%. Even gradual and small increases in physical activity can reduce the risk. Exercise improves overall health and is good for the heart, even for people who are just starting to become more active. Simply brisk walking, for example, is associated with a 30-50% reduction in risk for heart disease, obesity, diabetes and stroke.

How much exercise do you need?


The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition1 recommends how much physical activity we need to be healthy. The guidelines are based on current scientific evidence supporting the connections between physical activity, overall health and well-being, disease prevention and quality of life.

What kind of exercise should you do?

Don’t worry if you can’t reach 150 minutes per week just yet. Everyone has to start somewhere. Even if you've been sedentary for years, today is the day you can begin to make healthy changes in your life. Set a reachable goal for today. You can work up toward the recommended amount by increasing your time as you get stronger. Don't let all-or-nothing thinking keep you from doing what you can every day.

The simplest way to get moving and improve your health is to start walking. It's free, easy and can be done just about anywhere, even in place.

Any amount of movement is better than none. And you can break it up into short bouts of activity throughout the day. Taking a brisk walk for five or ten minutes a few times-a-day will add up.

If you have a chronic condition or disability, talk with your healthcare provider about what types and amounts of physical activity are right for you before making too many changes. But don’t wait! Get started today by simply sitting less and moving more, whatever that looks like for you.

Vigorous intensity activities will push your body a little further. They will require a higher amount of effort. You’ll probably get warm and begin to sweat. You won’t be able to talk much without getting out of breath.

Knowing your target heart rate can also help you track the intensity of your activities.

For maximum benefits, include both moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity in your routine along with strengthening and stretching exercises.

Other Benefits of Exercise

Improved mood: Physical activity can help you feel happier and more relaxed. It can also help to boost your confidence and make you feel good about yourself.

More energy: When you exercise, you improve how oxygen and nutrients move around the body. You can help your lungs and your heart work better, which can help you feel more energetic, with better endurance and stamina.

Better sleep: Many studies have shown that regular exercise promotes deeper sleep, and helps you fall asleep faster. A lot of people don’t realize that sleep is a very important component of good health, especially heart health. A condition called sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

How Much Exercise is Needed

Exercise is important for everyone, no matter what age or gender you are! However, you should exercise according to your personal fitness level and your own personal goals. As a general guideline for adults, at least 30-60 minutes of physical activity is recommended 4-7 days of the week. You can do:

30 minutes or more of at least moderate-intensity exercise

  • Walking, dancing, jogging, gardening, bicycling, etc.

15 minutes of work-related activity

  • Climbing stairs, light lifting, walking around during breaks at work, etc.

15 minutes of muscle strength training exercises

  • Lifting weights, carrying children, doing squats, yoga, etc.

Recommendations for Getting Active

Go for brisk walks.

  • Brisk walking every day is a great way to start exercising. Find someone who would be interested in joining you for a walk; this could be your spouse, your child, a friend or a neighbour. You can even create a small group of people who go on daily walks together. Most shopping malls also open their doors early so that people can have a safe indoor space to walk. This is a great option if you don’t feel comfortable walking in your neighbourhood.

Exercise with a friend, family member or neighbour.

  • Make it a social activity, not just an exercise routine. If you regularly visit a mosque or temple, ask your friends and fellow community members if they would be interested in organizing group exercising days, or group walks that you can participate in every few days or once every week.

Keep moving.

  • Avoid sitting in one place for a long period of time. This often happens at work, when people are at their desks for hours and do not get much movement. Consider setting an alarm on your phone that goes off every 30-40 minutes. This will remind you to take a short break and walk around.

Get active with the kids.

  • If you have young kids or grandchildren, playing with them can get you moving and active. Take them to the park and throw a ball around, or play tag with them. Even lifting and carrying them can be a form of weight training, if you do it for long enough. Work those muscles!

Start slowly.

  • If you are not a very active person and want to begin exercising, we recommend starting slowly and gradually increasing your physical activity. If you have any chronic health conditions or are unsure if it is safe for you to exercise, consult your doctor and find out which activities are safe for you to do.