The World Health organisation defines physical activity as “movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure”.
When we think about physical activity for people with heart disease, it can be split up into 2 main categories. The first type is what we call incidental activity. This can include such things as gardening, walking around the shops or chasing the grandkids at the park. This kind of activity is really important to help reduce the amount of time you spend sitting around not doing very much, as well as assisting you to burn a few more calories throughout the day.
The second kind of activity is non incidental activity. Non incidental activity is a more formalised type of movement. This can be playing sports, going for a walk or lifting some weights at your local gym.
Both forms are really important as being inactive can lead to all sorts of poor health outcomes for people. Sitting is considered the new smoking. It’s been said that inactivity is the fourth largest risk factor leading to death worldwide. With a gigantic estimate of over 3 million deaths associated with inactivity every year! Or put another way, people who exercise 5 times a week are 50 times less likely to suffer a cardiac event.
If we look a little closer at exercise for people with heart disease we can see clear benefits!
People who exercise regularly compared to those who don’t, can reduce their incidence of cardiac events by up to 40% as well as reducing their symptoms of angina. It helps lead to improved cholesterol profiles, and can assist in a reduction in incidence of high blood pressure by nearly 50%.
Regular exercise can build your muscle which helps to increase your strength and increase your metabolism. An increased metabolism can help you to lose weight, and improve your overall energy levels and general wellbeing.
Exercise assists you to manage your diabetes by increasing your insulin sensitivity and lowering your blood sugar levels.
Exercise has also been shown to reduce risks of depression by up to 150%, and has even been shown to be as effective as medication in treating people with mild forms of depression. It can reduce your anxiety, and those who regularly exercise are shown to be up to a whopping 213% more optimistic than those who don’t.
But most importantly with an improved lifestyle, exercise can help reduce the risks of a primary or secondary cardiac event.
On the question of how much exercise one should do, the evidence suggests that as little as 30min a day of moderate physical activity will give you benefit. Now this doesn’t all need to be done at the same time, the evidence shows that you can break your exercise up into short 10min sessions if this is more achievable for you.
Often I’m asked when the best time to exercise is? Should you get up in the morning or wait until a little later in the afternoon?
The truth of the matter is, it doesn’t really matter. The evidence isn’t clear in regard to a specific time of day to best exercise. What is clear is that if you participate in regular physical activity you will get lots of great benefits as we mentioned above.
Anyone can find an excuse not to exercise and sometimes we just don’t feel like it. But if you can manage to find ways to make sure you fit it into your busy day, I guarantee you will see the rewards.

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