You know you have to get adequate exercise to be healthy. It truly is one of the best things you can do for your health. Thirty to ninety minutes of exercise four to five times a week is ideal. It doesn’t have to be strenuous, but for the best results, it should be strenuous enough to strengthen your heart muscle, keep your weight in check, and able to ward off artery damage from high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure. All of which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Aerobic and resistance exercises offer a complete workout. There are many ways to do both. Flexibility exercises are also important because they provide a foundation for heart-healthy foods and workouts.

Aerobic exercises improve circulation. The improved circulation leads to lowered blood pressure and reduced heart rate. It also increases your overall aerobic fitness. It helps your cardiac output, meaning how well your heart pumps. It can also reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. If you are already living with diabetes, it can help control your blood glucose level.

You want to strive for at least thirty minutes a day, five days per week.

Brisk walks, running, swimming, cycling, playing tennis, and jumping rope are great examples of aerobic exercises. Doctors recommend you get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Break it down into small chunks and you’ll be right on track.

Resistance training has a very specific effect on body composition. For people who are overweight or carrying a lot of fat in a specific area like their stomachs, it can help reduce fat and create leaner muscle mass. When done in combination (one day on, one day off) with aerobic exercise, studies suggest it may help raise HDL (good) cholesterol and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Ideally, you want to have at least two nonconsecutive days per week of resistance training. Working out with free weights (dumbbells, barbells, and/or hand weights are ideal), weight machines, resistance bands, or body-resistance exercises like squats, push-ups, and chin-ups are all good examples.

Flexibility workouts like stretching don’t necessarily directly contribute to heart health, but they do benefit our musculoskeletal health, which helps you to stay flexible and free from joint pain, cramping and other muscular issues. The flexibility is critical to being able to maintain aerobic exercise and resistance training.

Flexibility and balance exercises also help maintain stability and prevent falls, which can cause injuries that limit other kinds of exercise.

Aim to do this every day or before or after other exercise. There are plenty of options available to you and for most, you don’t need to buy any equipment. You can do them at home via a video on YouTube, an app for your television or phone, or by picking up a book. Tai chi and yoga are perfect for improving your flexibility and very easy on your muscles and joints. There are also many, many gyms and community centers around the globe that offer inexpensive classes to help you get started.

By: Lisa Addler