Exercise can help counteract the harmful effects of chronic stress. For heart health, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity, such as brisk walking, every day or most days of the week.
The amount of exercise affects cardiovascular health, but it also can be an aid to weight control and improving lipids [blood fats], as well as blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease.
Exercise has another stress benefit. People who exercise have a reduced physical response to stress. Their blood pressure and heart rates don't go up as high as people under stress who don't exercise.
Their heart rate also returns to normal more quickly than the heart rate of someone who doesn't exercise. Regular exercise also can reduce the risk of depression, another risk factor for heart disease.
Need exercise motivation? Get a pedometer and try to log in 11,000 to 12,000 steps per day. This goal also will help you maintain your weight. With a pedometer, you get instant feedback and credit for all you do, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator.