Getting Active and Cardiovascular Disease

Key Points: Suggestions on how to get active.

Please talk to your GP before starting a new exercise regime.

  1. Moving a little and often every 30 to 60 minutes can have profound effects on your physical health and can reduce your risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease and a number of other diseases. Break up the time you spend sitting by either setting a gentle reminder on your phone to get up and walking around or simply just stretch for a few minutes during these breaks.
  2. If you haven’t been active for a while and feel out of shape we recommend that you start off slowly. Build the duration and intensity of exercise up over time. This helps your body to adapt and reduce any feelings of muscle soreness the next day.
  3. You can get started by going for a short 10 minute walk in the morning before you start your day and then again in the afternoon. 
  4. Getting active with someone can help you get motivated and most importantly, stay motivated. We recommend that you pick an activity that you enjoy and ask a friend or family member to join you. 
  5. It is also recommended to complete 2 resistance type exercise sessions (also known as strength training) a week. This can be performed in a gym or at home using weights, body weight or exercise bands. The types of exercises to include are:
  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Planks 

These movements target large muscle groups which are important for your heart’s health.

Did you know?

On average we spend around 65% of our day sitting, which is now claimed as the “new smoking”. In one study over 800,000 people were observed and it was reported that those who sat the most had a 147% increase in cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and strokes (1).

In fact, even if you did an hour of exercise at some point in your day and then sat for prolonged periods of time after this, you will still have a high risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease or type 2 diabetes. Therefore, exercise alone doesn’t negate the negative effects of sitting for prolonged periods of time.

How getting active can benefit my heart’s health?

The good news, frequently breaking up how long you sit for short bouts of walking around can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. These short bouts of movement wake up your muscles and lower your levels of lipids (fats) and glucose (sugar), which are key biomarkers of cardiovascular health.

  • Scientific evidence has shown that just 100 seconds (1 min 40 seconds) of moving your body every 30-minutes results in lower levels of glucose, lipids and bad cholesterol circulating in the blood.


    1. Wilmot, E.G., Davies, M.J., Edwardson, C.L., Gorely, T., Khunti, K., Nimmo, M., Yates, T., and Biddle, S.J.H. (2011). “Rationale and study design for a randomised controlled trial to reduce sedentary time in adults at risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus: project stand (Sedentary Time ANd Diabetes).” BMC Public Health. 11(908).