That “more” is measured in units of intensity called METs (metabolic equivalents), which rate how much energy an activity requires, compared with how much energy is used when you’re lying still. For instance, a leisurely 2-mile-an-hour stroll has a MET of 2; using a stationary bike at 50 watts with very light effort is ranked at 3. Increasing your functional capacity by one MET — that is, moving up from strolling to easy pedaling — reduces your risk of heart attack or stroke by 9 to 12 percent. As you increase intensity (by, say, picking up the pace of your walk), your risk continues to drop.
Enjoy Life Again
Not only will your cardiovascular system begin functioning better, you’ll enjoy a greater quality of life. A 2003 study of women who underwent cardiac rehab found that along with increased exercise capabilities, participants reported feeling better physically and mentally, eating better and worrying less. Other studies have found that along with improving body weight, HDL levels and other risk factors, cardiac rehab decreases anxiety and depression.
Live longer, stronger and happier? That’s a prescription most of us can live with.
— by Stacia Ragolia
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