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The Multiple Benefits of Maintaining an Active Lifestyle

February is American Heart Month

Here’s the hard, cold truth from the American Heart Association (AMA): heart disease and stroke (cardiovascular disease) are the primary causes of death worldwide. While family genetics can’t be changed, there are other ways you can reduce your risk of developing heart disease.

“Life’s Simple 7®”

“Get Active and Eat Better” is the AMA’s introductory slogan in their campaign to reduce cardiovascular disease. Making just seven small changes in your daily life can go a long way toward improving your overall health and also lead to big improvements in your cardiovascular health while improving bone and joint health as well.

The AMA recommends: eating better, losing weight, controlling cholesterol, managing blood pressure, reducing blood sugar, stopping smoking, and GETTING ACTIVE!

Take your dog for a walk

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) suggests that walking is a great way to introduce a more active lifestyle. Further, walking is a low-impact exercise that won’t jar your joints and it builds bone strength at the same time. Walking can also slow the development of arthritis and the loss of bone mass due to osteoporosis.

Note: People with certain knee, hip and back problems or those recovering from other physical injuries should discuss this and other more vigorous forms of exercise with their doctor prior to beginning a walking regimen.

Follow these 10 tips to get you started on the right foot

1 )  Make sure the shoes you use for walking have appropriate support.

2 )  Take a few minutes to stretch before taking a walk to help warm up your leg muscles.

3 )  Use good form – keep your head up, back straight and abdomen flat, point your toes straight ahead.

4 )  Start out at a slower pace and work up to faster times and distances.

5 )  Be sure to drink plenty of water – one pint before and after your walk.

6 )  Establish a routine.

7 )  Build strength and endurance by adding hand weights or walking sticks/poles to give your upper body a workout.

8 )  Wear a pedometer to track your progress.

9 )  Stay motivated by walking with friends or a walking group.

10 ) Breathe.

More information

For more detailed information about the benefits of the American Heart Association’s “Life’s Simple 7®” initiative, visit:


To learn more about how walking improves your overall health, visit the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website:


By Holly Harmon for Puget Sound Orthopaedics


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