Danica Patrick: It's never too late (or too soon) to get heart healthy

October 11, 2016 | by Danica Patrick

The human body is such an incredible machine. The harder you work it, the stronger it gets.

This applies to biceps and quads -- and your heart as well.

Exercise does so much more than help your clothes fit better. It plays a vital role in keeping you alive. It lowers your blood pressure, keeps weight off and makes your heart stronger, among other things.

You can start now, at any fitness level, and it will help your heart.

If you think you’re too old or heavy or out of shape to exercise now, think again.

If you’re young and have no regular exercise routine – it’s time to get moving. The older you get, the harder it is to get active.

Your age and fitness level determine where to start. Maybe you’re 40 and you don’t want to dive into CrossFit. Start walking!

The American Heart Association recommends adults spend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week, or an hour and 15 minutes of vigorous intensity activity. That amounts to 20 minutes of brisk walking each day, or jogging for roughly 11 minutes every day.

My boyfriend’s mom is 55. This year she started eating healthier and walking three miles each day. She lost a ton of weight and feels great! I started putting together some workouts for her that include slightly more challenging moves, like sit-ups and lunges.

If you’re out of shape, start small. Try a no-push-up burpee (squat thrust). Don’t push it too hard right off the bat.

Feel uncoordinated? You’re not a klutz; you’re just out of practice. Start working on moves like lunges, tuck jumps or burpees.

Being active also makes you more aware of how your body feels when it’s healthy. As things tend to pop up as you age, you’ll have a good baseline. I’m hyper-aware when anything changes in my physical health because I’m always paying attention.

The bottom line is that exercise is easy to add to your daily routine and will do wonders for your heart and overall health. It doesn’t have to be super-intense. Just keep moving! Walk instead of driving. Play outside instead of watching television. Park your car all the way in the back of the mall parking lot.

Little things will add up to improve your fitness level, making your machine stronger than ever.

Drive your health forward at Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness.

Prevention is the best medicine! Schedule a heart scan for $75 in October.

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