If all these lifestyle changes sound overwhelming to you, try taking this small step to boost your heart rate for a few seconds to a few minutes.
Small Step: Add Short Bursts of Intensity to Your Normal Activities
Please note: If you have a heart problem or chronic (ongoing) disease — such as heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure — ask your doctor what types of physical activity are safe for you. Discuss ways that you can slowly and safely build physical activity into your daily routine.
Example 1: Walk fast for short distances3
Walking is a great low impact exercise that people of all ages and fitness levels can do. You don’t need to invest in specialized gear. All you need is a dependable pair of shoes and a safe outdoor or expansive indoor space. The next time you’re walking — for exercise or to run an errand — try increasing your pace to a brisk walk for 30 seconds every two to five minutes. If you’re walking ten blocks to the store, walk fast for a few of them. Pick a time or distance interval that works for you and increase your pace every so often. This will elevate your heart rate, exercising the muscle and improving its use of oxygen. If you wear an activity tracker or heart rate monitor, you can see how much your pace and your heart rate increase.Determine Your Target Heart Rate
Just getting started? No problem — start slow and do what you can. Even a five-minute walk has real health benefits. Build up to more activity over time. Older, inactive adults should gradually increase their activity levels and avoid vigorous activity at first.
Example 2: Take the stairs, then take them again4
Do you have an elevator in your residence and/or workplace? Take the stairs instead, and as often as you can. Have stairs in your home? When you need to go up or down a level, don’t just make it a one-way trip — instead, walk up and down them repeatedly until you feel your blood starting to pump. Start with going up and down twice, then add more sets as your endurance increases. Stair walking not only increases your heart rate, it also builds strength in your lower body.
Example 3: Do squats5
Several times throughout your day when you find yourself standing somewhere (at your workstation, at the sink doing dishes, blow-drying your hair, at the laundry table, etc.), perform a set of squats. Place your feet approximately hip-width apart and bend your knees as though you are sitting down in a chair. Bend until your hips are even with your knees, then slowly raise back to standing. Repeat the squat motion 15 times. Squats may not seem like cardio exercise, but when you work large muscle groups like your quadriceps, your heart rate increases. Aim for two or three sets a day to begin. You can always add more as you get stronger. You can also mix and match squats with other conditioning exercises like lunges, pushups, planks, jumping jacks, or jogging in place to increase your heart rate and condition other parts of your body.See How to Squat Safely