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These days the stress is on exercise and fitness programs and the opening of gyms in every street is a pointer to the fact that people are making exercise a very important part of their daily regimen. However it is time to check out how much we actually know about physical activity with relation to heart disease.

We give here some common beliefs and myths with the right answers – so go ahead and check the extent of your knowledge on this very important health aspect!

* If you exercise regularly, you can reduce the chances of your getting a heart attack

Heart disease is more likely to occur if you have an inactive lifestyle. Be aware of the fact that being inactive is as dangerous a risk factor as smoking, being obese or having high cholesterol. Exercise goes a long way in reducing this risk.

* Your normal daily routine will take care of your exercise. You don't have to have a separate program to fit in exercise.
- False

Most people are 'busy' but not really physically active. You must make it a point to put in at least 30 minutes of 'moderate' exercise on a daily basis. You can undertake such simple activities like walking, gardening and even climbing up the stairs instead of using the elevator. Only, make it a regular routine and try not to skip it even for a day.

* You have to train like a marathon runner if you want to be really fit.
- False

Even low or moderate intensity physical activity like dance exercises, walking for pleasure or even home exercises to music can have both short-term and long-term benefits. The key lies in 'getting started', especially if the whole concept of exercising is totally new to you. Why don't you walk every day after your lunch, or even take your dog for a walk? Just remember, it takes just about 30 minutes of your time to fit in a few low to moderate-intensity activities, such as pleasure walking, stair climbing, housework, dancing, and home exercises all of which can have both short and long-term benefits. If you are inactive, the key is to get started today. Even 30 minutes of physical activity everyday can help improve your heart health.

* You are required to exercise for a long time every day for good results
- False

It takes only a few minutes a day to become more physically active. If you don t have 30 minutes in your schedule for an
exercise break, try to find two 15-minute periods or even three 10-minute periods. These exercise breaks will soon become a habit you can't live without.

* It doesn't take a lot of money or expensive equipment to become physically fit.

Many activities require little or no equipment. For example, brisk walking only requires a comfortable pair of walking shoes. These days most apartment complexes offer free or inexpensive recreation facilities and physical activity classes. It is become that much easier and less expensive to take the step towards good health!

* Only those who are overweight need regular exercise and it is they who will benefit most from it
- False

Generally, anyone who is physically active will find positive benefits from exercise. They will find that they have more energy, their stress levels are much reduced, and they are able to sleep soundly. High blood pressure is controlled and cholesterol levels are improved. If your aim is to lose weight, you will find that exercise tones your muscles and helps to burn all those extra calories. You will also find that you are able to curb you need for extra food. Another benefit is that your heart and lungs function better and you are able to live life to the full.

* As you grow older, you can be less active

It is a fact that people tend to become less active with age but please remember that physical activity is still very important. It is this which is going to stand by you as regular exercise will increase your capacity to do your daily activities without any problem. Only remember that you will have to match your activity program with your fitness level and age.

* Always consult your doctor before you start any physical activity program.

Always consult your doctor if you are just going to start your activity program especially if you have a medical condition like high blood pressure, pain in the chest and shoulders, if you feel dizzy or faint or even get breathless after a mild exertion. The same rule applies also if you are middle aged or older and if you have not been physically active. You should ask your doctor before you start (or greatly increase) your physical activity if you have a medical condition such as high blood pressure, have pains or pressure in the chest and shoulder, feel dizzy or faint, get breathless after mild exertion, are middle-aged or older and have not been physically active, or if you are planning a vigorous activity program. If none of these apply, please go slow when you start and increase your activity gradually.

You should not start any physical activity program if you've had a heart attack

- False

In fact, regular physical activity can actually reduce your chances of another heart attack. Your chances of survival are more improved and if after consulting your doctor, you work out a program that suits your condition you will stand to benefit from the safe and effective exercise program.

* Include a number of activities in order to stay physically active.

- True

You can pick out as many activities as you like doing. The more the variety, the better chances of your sticking to the program. Plan both short term and long term goals. It would help if you can record your activities and the progress you have made in achieving your goals. Get your family and friends to join in. They can help keep you going.