American Heart Association: Guide to a Healthy Heart

Back in 2007, The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association had released a set of guidelines that suggested that adults ages 18 to 65 should exercise a minimum of five days per week to prevent disease. Now The American Heart Association has for the first time defined "ideal cardiovascular health" and linked it to seven simple measures ("Life's Simple 7").

By pursuing these guidelines people can influence their health - through diet and lifestyle changes -- moving from poor and intermediate to ideal health.

The original guidelines recommended moderate intensity aerobic physical activity, such as brisk walking, for 30 minutes five days a week or vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, like jogging, for 20 minutes three days per week. Also emphasized is strength training a minimum of two non-consecutive days per week and includes 8 to 10 exercises repeated 8 to 12 times.

A large aspect of those guidelines recognized that exercise must be planned. The guidelines advised finding a kind of movement you enjoy: from dancing, martial arts, roller blading, yoga, to running a treadmill. As long as you're enjoying yourself and increasing your heart rate, then you've accomplished the recommended level of physical activity. Currently only 25% of the US population follows these guidelines, but the authors believe this can jump to 50% over the next decades with the support of community agencies and employers. 

The expanded guidelines go beyond exercise and were detailed an issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. In an article the AHA released a statement about the new goals for defining and setting national goals for cardiovascular health and disease prevention. 

The report in part was in response to an interesting survey that showed many Americans had misconceptions about their own cardiovascular health. The survey showed that 39% of Americans think they have ideal heart health though 54% percent had been told by a health professional that they had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

As a result the AHA developed guidelines based on scientific research that if promoted and followed would lead to healthier cardiovascular health. The program is described as “Life’s 7 Simple Measures:

1. Never smoked, or quit more than a year ago.

2. Having a BMI (body mass index) of less than 25 kg/m2.

3. Exercising at a moderate level for at least 150 minutes, or at an intense level for 75 minutes per week.

4. Meeting four to five of the key components of a healthy diet in line with current AHA guidelines.

5. Having a total cholesterol of less than 200 mg/dL.

6. Blood pressure below 120/80 mm Hg.

7. Fasting blood glucose below 100 mg/dL. 

 

 

 

 

 


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