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06 Feb

Exercise is the most effective way to maintaining a healthy heart.

Regular physical activity raises healthy HDL cholesterol in the blood and reduces unhealthy low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. It also lowers blood pressure, burns visceral fat and lowers blood-sugar levels – giving the heart another boost.

And, following a heart attack, patients who stick to an exercise-based recovery programme can reduce the likelihood of dying from heart disease by a third.

Anything that makes the heart beat faster will help – running, walking, swimming or simply taking the stairs rather than the lift. Three brisk, ten-minute walks a day is enough to improve heart strength. Try to find ways to build this into your day.

Moderate Exercise Every Day

Studies suggest doing 20 minutes of moderate exercise a day could add a couple of years to your life. However doing a lot more will have less dramatic effect – an hour a day will only add a further year to life expectancy – so it seems the critical thing is that first 20 minutes. The greatest benefits are seen in those who have previously been inactive.

And it’s never too late to start: one recent study found that every extra half-hour of light activity undertaken by men aged 71 to 92, was associated with 17 per cent lower odds of death over a six-year period. Those that did 150 minutes of moderate 1 activity a week were almost twice as likely to survive at least six years.

It has been estimated that every hour spent sitting down watching TV cuts life expectancy by about 22 minutes according to a recent study.

That means a person who spends six hours a day in front of the TV is at risk of dying five years sooner than those who are more active.

Sedentary behaviour is linked to obesity, high levels of unhealthy cholesterol and other heart-disease risk factors, and more opportunities for snacking on junk food.

Try watching TV standing up (maybe while doing the ironing which burns about 80 calories an hour) or while on an exercise bike.

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