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Want to live longer? Exercise adds up

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Want to live longer? The American Heart Association (AHA) reports for every hour of regular exercise, a person gains two hours of additional life expectancy. That’s even true, the AHA notes, if you don’t start until middle age.

The good news is you don’t have to get it all in one lump. The AHA says three 10-minute periods of moderate activity are almost as beneficial to overall fitness as one 30-minute session. And just 30 minutes has proven health benefits, the AHA says.

The AHA’s Go Red for Women campaign is on a mission to fight heart disease in women. Almost every minute, a woman in the U.S. dies from heart disease. Nearly five times as many women will die from heart attacks alone than will die from breast cancer. But there are ways to live a heart healthy lifestyle by eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, giving up smoking, and not drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.

It isn’t easy. If it were, we’d all be the perfect specimens. But those sobering numbers about heart disease should be a motivator for getting more fit. As a way to help, the AHA, in partnership with the Brainerd Lakes Heart and Vascular Center at Essentia Health - St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Brainerd put together a team of regular residents, both men and women, for its first Go Red Better U Heart Health Challenge.

The idea is to teach team members ways to improve their health and have them share what they’ve learned with others. That’s where this blog comes in. As one of the team members, I’ll be sharing those tips with readers.

One of our first sessions was on being more active throughout the day.

Activity counted as gardening, walking a little extra by parking farther way when running errands, working around the house, walking the dog. It’s all good.

Our office lives are helping kill us off in more ways than one. Besides increasing levels of job stress, we have gone from physically demanding work of past generations to exercising our fingers on the keyboard.

But it’s in your best interest to take a quick break, stretch by slowly tilting your head from one shoulder to the other and bending your head forward, roll your shoulders forward and backward. Stretches should be held for 10 to 30 seconds. Don’t bounce. And take a quick walk around the building.

If you want to lose weight, the activities in your life should include 60 to 90 minutes of exercise per day. Exercise is the workout that makes you sweat. It’s biking, hiking, jogging, brisk walking, playing tennis, among others. The AHA reported healthy adults, age 18 to 65, need moderate intensity exercise for 30 minutes at least five days a week or vigorous activity exercise at least 20 minutes, three days a week. Use a talk test, which means you are exercising hard enough that you only have enough breath to easily speak in short sentences.

Regular exercise promotes better sleep, helps lubricate joints, builds your immune system, benefits memory by increasing oxygen flow, relieves tension, anxiety, anger and depression and can decrease your chances of developing a host of cancers. Exercise also lowers blood pressure, benefiting the heart.

So get started. Next time we’ll go over some of the other tips for exercise and diet.

The advice is to choose something you like and just get started — today.

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
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