The importance of exercise for heart health

Exercise right weekYou probably think heart health is something you need to worry about in later life.

However, many of the lifestyle habits and risk factors for heart disease can develop early on in adult life.

Although attending university is a wonderful time in your life that provides career opportunities and social networks, there are some aspects that can promote an unhealthy lifestyle and increase the risk factors for heart disease.

For example:

  • The nature of attending classes and prolonged study can result in more sedentary time
  • Being on a budget can lead to unhealthy food choices, elevating your risk of high cholesterol and obesity
  • The stress of exams and assignments can raise your risk of high blood pressure
  • Late night study (and perhaps some partying) can impact on duration and quality of sleep, which can heighten your risk of metabolic disease such as diabetes.

But, it’s not all doom and gloom!

Research shows that regular exercise can help combat all of these negative influences on your health. Not only can regular exercise negate the effects of prolonged sitting and poor sleep, it can also reduce stress, cholesterol, blood pressure, obesity, and risk of diabetes.

How much exercise do you need?

At least 150 minutes (but ideally 300 minutes) of moderate to vigorous intensity exercise per week is recommended. You might do 30-45 minutes of exercise five days per week or 60 minutes three days per week. How you get your 150 minutes is up to you, but aim for a minimum of 20 minutes per session.

Intensity of exercise is important. For a moderate to vigorous intensity you should be feeling sweaty and puffed, but you don’t need to be completely out of breath.

Examples of moderate to vigorous exercise include:

  • Aerobic exercise such as brisk walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, rowing, step-ups, boxing
  • Weight-bearing resistance exercises such as push-ups and squats
  • Sports such as football, netball, basketball, hockey, or racquet sports.

You could exercise to and from university, join a university team sport, or exercise with a friend during your break from classes.

Now is an important time to develop a healthy lifestyle and reduce your risk of heart disease later on in life. You can visit for more tips and info.

Last updated:
5 August 2020