From the Heart and Stroke Foundation

Regular physical activity is a great asset to keeping your heart healthy and leading a healthy lifestyle. But if you're not active now, don't worry that you suddenly have to embark on an Olympic-worthy training schedule. As far as your heart is concerned, a little activity goes a long way.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends adults get 30 to 60 minutes of activity a day, most days of the week for heart health. Children require 60 to 90 minutes a day, most days of the week.

The activity doesn't have to be non-stop, such as an aerobics class. You can do 10 minutes at a time throughout the day to reach your daily total. For example, you can take a brisk 10-minute walk during your lunch hour, 10 minutes of active play with your kids after work, and another 10 minutes to walk the dog in the evening. If you're short on time, remember that any physical activity is better than none. The bonus: physical activity will give you more energy and help you cope better with your busy and stressful week.

Just as a variety of foods is important for healthy eating, a variety of activities is important for healthy living. You'll want to choose physical activities that require endurance, strength and flexibility.

  • Endurance activities, which are continuous activities such as walking, cycling and tennis, are especially beneficial for your heart, lungs and circulatory system. Aim for 4 to 7 times a week.


  • Strength activities, such as carrying groceries (or toddlers!), heavy yard work or weight training, strengthen muscles and bones and improve posture. Aim for 2 to 4 times a week.


  • Flexibility activities, such as stretches, yoga, housework or golfing keep your muscles relaxed and your joints mobile. Try to incorporate some form of stretching 4 to 7 times a week.

You'll also want to vary your activity from light, moderate and vigorous effort. Here are some suggestions:

Light Effort (60 minutes)

  • Light walking
  • Volleyball
  • Easy gardening
  • Stretching

Moderate Effort (30 to 60 minutes)

  • Brisk walking
  • Biking
  • Raking leaves
  • Swimming
  • Dancing
  • Water aerobics

Vigorous Effort (20 to 30 minutes)

  • Aerobics
  • Basketball
  • Fast swimming
  • Fast dancing
  • Hockey
  • Jogging

Tips to get active

Canada's Physical Activity Guide to Healthy Active Living

Heart and Stroke Foundation

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This article has been independently researched, written and reviewed by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and is based on scientific evidence. The information is for reference and education only. This web article is not intended to be a substitute for a physician’‘s advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should consult your physician for specific information on personal health matters. The Heart and Stroke Foundation assumes no responsibility or liability arising from any error in, or omission of, information or from the use of any information or advice contained within this article.

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© - 2008. Reproduced with permission of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada