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Exercise

If you have cardiovascular disease—or are at high-risk for developing it—one of the most important things you can do for yourself is to exercise. Exercise can lower your heart disease risk, which may lead to a longer, healthier life.

Benefits of Regular Physical Activity

Exercise includes aerobic, such as walking or swimming; resistance, such as lifting weights; flexibility exercise, such as stretching or yoga; and lifestyle exercise, such as gardening or housework. Exercise can be enjoyable if you pick the right activity. It provides many general and cardiovascular health benefits. General health benefits include increasing your energy level, helping you lose or maintain weight, managing stress, improving your self-image, regulating blood sugar, strengthening your heart and other muscles, helping your heart work more efficiently, improving your immune system, and helping you sleep better. The cardiovascular benefits of aerobic activity include decreased risk for heart attack and stroke, lower blood pressure and LDL ("bad") cholesterol, and increased HDL ("good") cholesterol. Resistance exercise, such as weight lifting, builds muscle, helps increase bone density, and increases lean muscle mass.

Activity Guidelines

Physical activity is important for everyone and you do not have to be an athlete to reap the cardiovascular benefits of exercise. Your heart will receive the biggest benefit through aerobic exercises. Start slowly, and gradually increase the frequency, duration, and intensity of your workouts. Although your physician may recommend different goals, guidelines call for working out for 30 to 60 minutes three to five times per week for cardiovascular health and four to six times per week for weight loss.

If you are unable to perform regular aerobic activity, you can still lower your risk of heart disease and stroke through lifestyle exercise. Moderate activity such as walking during breaks at work, taking the stairs instead of the elevators, gardening, and housework can still be beneficial when performed on most or all days of the week.

How to Get Started

Always check with your health care provider before starting an exercise program. Medically supervised exercise programs, such as a cardiac rehabilitation program, are recommended for patients who are at moderate to high risk of developing problems during exercise.

We Can Help

We have programs and facilities that can help you reach your fitness and heart-related goals. Our Leap for Life® program provides a wealth of information about your heart, heart disease, and how to manage it. The seminar provides a comprehensive risk assessment, a Leap for Life® book, information about your heart and how it works, tools for heart-healthy eating, exercising, and stress management. And we're with you every step of the way through health counseling on the phone and reporting on your progress to your physician. For more information about Baylor's Leap For Life® program on the Dallas campus, call 214.820.2109.

We also offer a cardiac rehabilitation program. Our cardiac rehabilitation program draws on a multidisciplinary team that includes cardiologists, internal medicine doctors, registered nurses, exercise specialists, registered dietiians, and social workers in a carefully designed program that is tailored to your specific needs. Offered in three phases, our program features monitored physical activity in which you gradually increase the intensity of your exercise, the efficiency of your heart and lungs, and the strength of your body's muscles while gaining the confidence you need to return to daily life. Our cardiac rehabilitation program is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 7:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., and Tuesday and Thursday from 7:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Entrance into the program will require a physician referral. If you feel you could benefit from the program, you should discuss it with your physician and request a referral. Most cardiac rehabilitation programs are covered by insurance and Medicare. To learn more about cardiac rehabilitation, click here.

Tom Landry Fitness Center

The Baylor Tom Landry Fitness Center is a comprehensive fitness facility dedicated to physical health, fitness, and rehabilitation. Totaling 150,000 square feet, the facility includes a 7,000-square-foot strength and conditioning training room; a 3,300-square-foot cardiovascular training room; a lush 7-acre secured park; racquetball courts; aerobics, Pilates, and yoga studios; a spin room; indoor and outdoor tracks; and running trails.

For more information about the Baylor Tom Landry Fitness Center, please call 214.820.7872.

Helpful Tips

  • Choose activities that you enjoy.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothes.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise.
  • Exercise with a spouse or a friend.
  • Exercise at the same time every day so it will become part of your regular schedule.
  • Start slowly - don't overdo it.

Other Important Information

  • Don't compare yourself to others. Focus on your personal goals and fitness.
  • Don't push yourself too hard. You should be able to talk during exercise.
  • If you don't feel fully recovered within 10 minutes after you stop exercising, you are working too hard.
  • If you have chest pain, severe shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea or other serious signs and symptoms during exercise, stop immediately, seek medical help, and call 911.

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