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Get more active

It is important to accumulate 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous- intensity aerobic physical activity per week.

The Benefits
Physical activity can be a lifesaver – literally. Incorporating physical activity into your day can benefit your health significantly and can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Regular activity also helps prevent and control high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, certain types of cancer and obesity

Physical activity can

  • Improve digestion
  • Reduce stress levels
  • Increase energy
  • Improve sleep
  • Dramatically lower your risk of heart disease and stroke

It can also help prevent and control risk factors such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Certain types of cancer
  • Obesity

You may see benefits within the first week of regular activity! For example, your blood pressure may improve and you could start to feel more energetic and relaxed. After three months, you may experience better health, improved posture and balance, stronger muscles and bones, more confidence and a more positive outlook on life.

Because physical activity makes you feel better about yourself, you're more likely to make healthy lifestyle choices and avoid unhealthy ones such as smoking, overeating or drinking too much alcohol.

If you have a heart problem, check out our Heart Walk Workout.
This special exercise program developed by the Heart and Stroke Foundation helps people with heart disease problems get regular healthy exercise.

NOTE: Before starting a physical activity program, speak to your healthcare provider first to discuss what is right for you.

(Source: Heart & Stroke Foundation)

HeartWalk Workout
The HeartWalk Workout is a special activity program developed by the Heart and Stroke Foundation to help people with cardiovascular problems get regular, healthy physical activity. It has been approved by healthcare professionals and is widely used in Canada. Before starting any physical activity program, check with your doctor first.

When to start
Start off slowly. Follow the program just as is. At first, resist the urge to walk longer. If you overdo it, you may feel sore and tired afterwards and get discouraged.
If 10 minutes is too much to start, walk just five minutes. You may continue to follow the program by adding five minutes to your walking as it progresses. Keep track of your progress on a calendar or in a daily journal.

Week 1 & 2

Walk every second day.

  • Walk 10 minutes
  • Set an easy pace the first week, go a little faster the second week.

Weeks 3 & 4

Work out four times a week.

  • Walk 10 minutes
  • Set a little faster pace
  • Speed up and go further the fourth week.

Weeks 5 & 6

Workout five times a week

  • Walk briskly for 25 to 30 minutes
  • Start to pump or swing your arms
  • Walk up gentle hills; lean forward a little when going uphill

Workout tips

  • Find a walking partner. Keep each other motivated!
  • If the weather is too hot or cold, walk in a mall instead.
  • Match clothing to weather. If it's cold, layer clothes. If it's hot, wear light clothing.
  • If you've had open heart surgery or a heart attack, ask your doctor about a cardiac rehabilitation program.

Program Goal
Build up your exercise tolerance until you can walk at least 30 minutes, five times a week. Feeling great? Build up to an hour!

(Source: Heart & Stroke Foundation)

Tips to Get Physically Active

Try to make physical activity a part of every day. Walk to work, take a physical activity break at lunch time, or go for an after-dinner stroll. That way it's easy and fun, not a time crunch.

  • If you're just starting out, go slow and work up gradually. Make sure you have an action plan for each season, so that the weather doesn't get in the way. Work physical activity into your daily life. Take a walk around the block, play with your kids, or dance to your favourite music.
  • List the activities you like (swimming, bowling, biking) and the rewards you hope to gain (better heart health, reduced stress). Then plan how to make them part of your daily routine. At work, carve out 10 minutes to walk during lunch. If you have children, ask your family, friends or neighbours to pitch in to watch the kids while you take that dance class you've always wanted to sign up for.
  • Involve family and friends in your physical activity program. You'll gain support and companionship. You don't need to go it alone!
  • Keep at it, and within three months or less, you'll notice a big difference in your fitness level. You'll feel better, have more energy, sleep more soundly and reduce your stress.

Here are some physical activities to try throughout the year:

  • Spring Summer:
    • Biking
    • Gardening
    • Golfing
    • Hiking
    • Inline skating
    • Kickball
  • Fall Winter:
    • Bowling
    • Dancing
    • Hiking
    • Ice skating
    • Weight lifting
    • Mall walking
    • Hockey
    • Sledding
    • Snow shoeing
    • Snowboarding / Skiing
    • Stretching
    • Tobagganing
    • Yoga 
  • Other Ideas:
    • Cycle or walk to work
    • Climb the stairs instead of taking the escalator or elevator
    • Get off the bus or subway a stop earlier and walk to work and home
    • Make appointments for walking meetings with co-workers
    • Walk the kids to school
    • Park the car further away from your destination
    • Walk to the corner store, bank and post office
    • Wash and wax the car by hand

(Source: Heart & Stroke Foundation)