Women's Heart Advisor April 2009 Issue

Get Moving, Have Some Fun, and Your Heart Will Thank You

“Exercise” is an eight-letter word. Does that make it twice as bad as a four-letter

If you find exercise unappealing, the answer may be yes. But we’d like to shatter the myth that strenuous exercise is necessary to benefit your heart. Recent research has revealed that enjoyable leisure activities will do the job just fine. "The bottom line is if you choose an activity you enjoy, you are more likely to do it regularly," says Gordon Blackburn, Ph.D., director of the Preventive Cardiology and Rehabilitation Program at Cleveland Clinic. Gardening, dancing, golfing, walking and other leisure activities can reduce the risk of atrial fibrillation (AF), concluded a study in the August 5, 2008, Circulation. Strenuous exercise did not necessarily produce the same benefit. An irregular heart rhythm, AF increases the risk of stroke. After age 65, the incidence of AF grows two percent per year, likely due to high blood pressure, heart failure, valve disease, prior heart attack or other condition that compromises the heart.

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