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Activity and exercise

Becoming more active is another way to reduce your risk of coronary artery disease. And if you already have coronary artery disease, simply moving more will decrease your risk of serious symptoms such as heart attack and angina. If you’ve already had a heart attack or have angina, becoming more active is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of your condition worsening.

Being physically active also improves your mental health and bone and muscle strength, and helps reduce other risk factors of coronary artery disease such as being overweight, having high blood pressure and having high blood cholesterol.

Various studies also show that the less active you are, the greater the health benefit you gain from becoming more active, relative to someone who already meets or exceeds minimum activity requirements.

Apart from increasing your risk of coronary heart disease, being inactive also increases your risk of a wide range of health conditions including other forms of cardiovascular disease, colon and breast cancers, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis.

How much and how hard?

Australia’s National Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that you should do at least 30 minutes of moderately-intense physical activity each day on at least five, but preferably all, days of the week, as a minimum to achieve health benefits.

This doesn’t need to take place in one 30-minute session each day – it could be two 15-minute or three 10-minute sessions. Examples of ‘moderately- intense’ activities are walking briskly – but not so fast that you can’t hold a conversation – or cycling along a gentle incline or swimming laps at a steady pace.

The physical activity guidelines also highlight the extra health and fitness gains you can make by adding some more vigorous exercise into your weekly routine – such as playing sport, attending fitness classes at a gym and vigorous cycling, running or competitive swimming.

In Australia, the 2000 National Physical Activity Survey showed that slightly more than half of Australians aged between 18 and 75 were not active enough to obtain a health benefit, even though it should be relatively easy to meet the minimum levels of physical activity.

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This information has been developed and reviewed for Bupa by health professionals. To the best of their knowledge it is current and based on reputable sources of medical research. It should be used as a guide only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical or other health professional advice.

Bupa Australia Pty Ltd makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. Bupa Australia is not liable for any loss or damage you suffer arising out of the use of or reliance on the information. Except that which cannot be excluded by law. We recommend that you consult your doctor or other qualified health professional if you have questions or concerns about your health. For more details on how we produce our health content, visit the About our health information page.

Last published 31 October 2011

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