The American Heart Association (AHA) reminds us that heart disease is the number one killer in the United States and other industrialized countries. The disease kills more than 700,000 Americans a year. The good news is each of us can substantially decrease the risk of heart disease by making some simple lifestyle changes such as beginning a regular exercise program. With long summer days ahead, now's the perfect time to get moving. The AHA offers some simple ways to move more and have fun too!

In a recent article in the AHA's journal, Circulation, researchers noted that regular modest exercise can raise HDL or "good" cholesterol by four percent and can lower LDL and triglycerides, or "bad" cholesterol by four to five percent. Further, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine that patients with type II or adult-onset diabetes who engage in moderate exercise such as walking just two hours a week can lower their risk for dying prematurely by more than one-third.

The good news about exercise is that it doesn't mean hours in a gym or running a marathon. Many typical household tasks and social activities can provide moderate exercise and real health benefits. The AHA offers the following suggestions to help you get started. The goal is to engage in 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise each day.

Ideas for home
  • Do housework yourself instead of hiring someone else to do it.
  • Work in the garden, mow the grass (riding lawn mowers don't count), rake leaves, prune trees or pick up trash.
  • Go out for a short walk before breakfast, after dinner or both. Start with 5 to 10 minutes and work up to 30 minutes total.
  • When walking, try to pick up the pace from leisurely to brisk. Try to include a few hills.
  • Walk or bike to nearby stores instead of using the car.
  • Park further away from the shopping mall or stores and walk the extra distance.
Ideas for the office
  • Take a walk with co-workers to brainstorm project ideas.
  • Stand while talking on the telephone.
  • Walk down the hall to talk to a co-worker instead of using the telephone.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Or get off the elevator a couple of floors before yours and walk the remaining stairs.
  • Walk while waiting for a plane in the airport terminal.
  • Stay at hotels with fitness centers or swimming pools while on business trips and use them!
  • Participate in or start a recreation league at your company.
  • Form a sports team to raise money for charity.
  • Schedule time for exercise on your business calendar and treat it like any other important appointment.
Ideas for play
  • Plan family outings and vacations that include physical activity such as hiking, backpacking or swimming.
  • See sights in new cities by walking, jogging or bicycling.
  • Make a date with a friend to enjoy your favorite physical activities. Do them regularly.
  • Hit the dance floor! Better yet take dancing lessons.
  • Join a club that emphasizes physical activity.
  • At the beach, take walks or fly a kite.
  • When golfing, walk the course instead of using a cart.