News & Insights 27 July 2023

Physical activity can look different for everybody – find what suits you best to support your heart health!

Physical activity is vital for heart health! Although most, if not all people are aware of this fact, many perceive their busy schedule as a major barrier to leading a physically active lifestyle. This doesn’t need to be the case, in fact, you can implement more movement into your normal lifestyle in a way that works best for you. So, whether you want to prevent future heart problems or if you are looking for a healthy way to self-manage your heart condition, continue reading to see what the latest research says and how you can exploit it to start benefitting your heart health today!

A recent study investigated if engagement in physical activity that is concentrated over a 1–2-day period per week has the same heart health benefits compared with physical activity that is more evenly spread throughout the week. In total, 89,573 individuals wore an accelerometer device to measure their weekly total of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA). Based on the data, individuals were divided into 3 groups: “weekend warriors” whose MVPA was concentrated within 2 days of the week, an “active regular” group, who spread their MVPA more evenly across the course of the week, and an “inactive” group. What they found was that both the “weekend warriors” and the “active regular” group had a similarly lower risk of suffering from atrial fibrillation, myocardial infarction, heart failure, and stroke compared to the “inactive” group. This supports the idea that you can improve your heart health in a number of different ways, depending on how you can fit physical activity into your normal routine. Whether your physical activity is evenly distributed across your week or if you decide to concentrate it over only a few days of the week, your heart health will benefit versus leading an inactive lifestyle.

It is also important to acknowledge that this study also has one big limitation. Even though the guidelines state that 150 minutes or more of MVPA per week is needed to reach optimum health, research suggests that every minute of movement is important for our health (Katzmarzyk and Jakicic, 2023) and that some physical activity, no matter the intensity, is better than none. In fact, there is an inverse dose-response relationship between physical activity and cardiovascular disease incidence and mortality meaning that the more physically active you are the lower the chance of developing a heart condition (Carnethon, 2009; Kohl, 2001). Therefore, even if you are not reaching the 150 minutes of MVPA per week, you can still benefit from moving in a way that works best for you.

In addition, physical activity can take many different forms. Walking, dancing, gardening and yoga are only a few examples of structured activities that can support you in keeping your heart healthy (University of California San Francisco, 2023). However, it Is also important to highlight that you can rethink exercise to make your everyday movement a medicine, as even the movement associated with typical activities of daily living count towards your overall physical activity level. That includes housework activities from hoovering or washing the car, to hanging out the washing, and much more (Heart Foundation, 2023). If you don’t enjoy structured exercise, you can optimise the movement that you already engage in as part of your day-to-day life. Now that you are empowered with the knowledge that physical activity is far more than structured exercise alone, you can take meaningful steps towards self-managing your physical activity for the good of your health both now and in the future.

At KiActiv®, we have been supporting people with cardiovascular disease for a number of years, helping people to rethink exercise and make their everyday movement an effective and accessible medicine, which can alleviate the fear that is commonly associated with increasing physical activity levels. Through using their Personalised Online Dashboard and the guided-support of their Mentor, KiActiv® Health participants feel motivated to optimise their total dose of physical activity in the context of their health, capacity and environment. The service is underpinned by Self-Determination Theory to promote healthy lifestyle change that is self-driven and can be sustained beyond the initial 12 weeks of KiActiv® Health. Here are just a few examples from individuals who have benefitted from using the KiActiv® Health service:

“After being given the chance to use KiActiv®, I now feel I have a lot more control over how activities I partake in affect my health and wellbeing. The ability to look at and categorise activities in graphs and see the impact, has been invaluable. I feel so much more positive about my recovery as I am able to plan and assess my recovery on a daily basis. Because of this I would not hesitate to recommend KiActiv® to anyone.”

“It helped me plan my exercises and improve my fitness after having a heart attack in 2020. I also found the KiActiv® staff very knowledgeable and helpful, I would highly recommend this programme to all.”

“I have noticed I’m able to go up and down stairs quicker as I feel stronger, my legs are stronger. I’m not as breathless as I was as I’ve been doing it more.”

“I feel fitter, stronger and more motivated to reach health and lifestyle goals in the future.”

If you want to take control over your health and unlock the endless health benefits that come with optimising your everyday movement, click here to get started!

The KiActiv® Team