Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Are You Active Enough? Heart Assoc Adopts Exercise Guidelines for Better Health

The American Heart Association and its Syracuse chapter are backing exercise and activity recommendations just released by the U-S Department of Health and Human Services.  WAER’s Chris Bolt reports they come at a time when many people are not exactly focused on their health.

Cold Weather, holiday meals and treats, celebrating the season … doesn’t exactly make many think about exercise. 

But the federal health agency just release guidelines about how much people should be active for good health.  Cardiologist Doctor Riya Chacko of Crouse Hospital finds in her patients, the same thing as national studies … that only about 20-percent of women and 25-percent of men get anywhere near the recommended amount of activity.

“I find the ones that do exercise have the health benefits.  Their blood pressure’s lower; their cholesterol is lower; they have lower cardiovascular complications.  Their mental state is better; they have less anxiety, less depression, less inflammatory markers.  Their diabetes is better.  And it doesn’t take a lot.”

The main change in the health guidelines is time.  Chacko notes in 2008 the recommendation was 10 minute of working out a day.  That’s changed to 150 minutes of activity a week to get the health benefits she mentioned.  Or she breaks it down to 30 minutes five times a week.  Of course, many are hearing this saying “where will I find 30 minutes a day – I don’t have five minutes.  Chacko has found moving the gym experience to her home is just one way to find  the activity or exercise time.

“You can use social media, you can use a Fitbit; you can use movies, DVDs, your iPhone.  So now the excuses are not as prevalent as they were when we didn’t have access to resources you can use at home.”

And she notes activities can be mowing a lawn; walking the mall; for someone mobility impaired, swimming; or a dance class.  The best way to stick to it is to find an activity you already enjoy. 

(CLICK TO ENLARGE) American Heart Association is promoting the guidelines as a way to compare your activity level, in order to get most health benefit.

Chacko agrees any increase in activity is better than none … especially for those who are sedentary.  And she has a good reason to start right away.

“I say, ‘this is the best you’ll ever be; today is the youngest you’ll ever be. Tomorrow you’ll just be older; you’re just going to age.  So what are you waiting for?  What excuse do you have?  If this is your best time, why don’t you take advantage of it? So yes, you’re going to have some indulgences, but everything is in balance and moderation.’ And the way to maintain it is to do regular, consistent activity.”

The new guidelines include suggestions for weight and strength training as modifications for intense activity. 

Chacko is the President elect of the local Heart Association Chapter;  She has one more heart healthy recommendation that applies to this time of year.

“The other important thing for health these days in our society is stress modification.  So exercise is great to relieve stress but also focusing on other activities: yoga, meditation, mindfulness.  It’s a balance because of you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will.”

The heart association has adopted the exercise recommendations as their official guidelines, and says it will work on programs and policies to help people get more physically active no matter where they live. CB WAER News

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.