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Physical inactivity

People who are physically inactive are twice as likely to be at risk for heart disease or stroke than people who are physically active. Active living is important to maintaining good heart health throughout your life. Being active means something different to everyone, whether it's gardening, walking or running. But any physical activity can have a positive impact on your heart health.  

Make it part of your life

There are many important reasons to make physical activity part of your life. It's a great way to maintain a healthy weight, reduce high blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, manage stress and cut your risk of heart disease and stroke.

At least 30 minutes most days of the week

The Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends Canadians make active living part of their daily lives. You don't even have to go for an intense workout to get these healthy benefits. Just 30 minutes most days of the week is all it takes to start, and everything counts, even gardening, housework or dancing with your kids. When you have acheived 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week, slowly work your way up to 60 minutes.

Tips to get active

Choose activities you enjoy, start slowly and find a buddy to keep you motivated. Remember that doing any physical activity is better than doing none at all. Always check with your healthcare provider first before starting a physical activity program.

  • Walk it off! Walking is probably the simplest heart-healthy activity. All you need is a good pair of shoes. You can walk around the block, in the park, or just incorporate more walking into your daily routine by getting off the bus or subway one stop early and walking the rest of the way. 
  • Dig into gardening! Gardening is one of the Canada's most popular pastimes. When you think of all the digging, raking, fertilizing, planting, pruning and watering, gardening offers a great opportunity to get outdoors and be active all spring and summer long.
  • Play with the kids. Kick the ball around, throw a Frisbee, skip rope, or play tag! Instead of watching your kids play, why not join them? Taking family walks or bike rides are great ways to stay fit, spend time together and teach your children to enjoy being physically active. Lead by example, because children learn more from what you do than from what you say.
  • Make activity part of your life. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Wash and wax your car yourself instead of taking it to a car wash. Trade in your power lawnmower for a push mower, or walk to the corner store instead of driving.

Check out Canada's Physical Activity Guide to Healthy Active Living.

Last reviewed April 2011.