Designing an Exercise Program

Regular, aerobic physical activity plays a role in preventing cardiovascular diseases by getting the heart to beat faster, increasing blood flow to muscles and lungs and maximizing the amount of oxygen in the blood.

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When you exercise, you breathe faster and more deeply. This maximizes the amount of oxygen in your blood. Your heart will beat faster, which increases blood flow to your muscles and back to your lungs. Your small blood vessels (capillaries) will widen to deliver more oxygen to your muscles and carry away waste products, such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid. Your body will even release endorphins, natural painkillers that promote an increased sense of well-being.

Even low-to-moderate intensity activities for as little as 30 minutes a day can be beneficial. These activities may include:

  • Pleasure walking
  • Climbing stairs
  • Gardening
  • Yard work
  • Moderate-to-heavy housework
  • Dancing
  • Home exercise

However, aerobic activities (which use large muscle groups, can be maintained, and are rhythmic in nature), when performed three or four times a week for 30 to 60 minutes, are best for improving the fitness of the heart and lungs. Regular, aerobic physical activity plays a role in preventing cardiovascular diseases by getting the heart to beat faster, increasing blood flow to muscles and lungs and maximizing the amount of oxygen in the blood. They also give one a sense of well-being through the release of endorphins, natural painkillers produced by the body.

Examples include:

  • Brisk walking
  • Running
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Roller skating
  • Jumping rope

Benefits from regular exercise or physical activity:

  • Improves blood circulation throughout the body
  • Keeps weight under control
  • Improves blood cholesterol levels
  • Prevents and manages high blood pressure
  • Prevents bone loss
  • Boosts energy level
  • Releases tension
  • Improves the ability to fall asleep quickly and sleep well
  • Improves self-image
  • Helps manage stress
  • Counters anxiety and depression
  • Increases enthusiasm and optimism * increases muscle strength

A daily exercise program can provide a way to share an activity with family and friends, while helping establish good heart-healthy habits. For older people, daily physical activity helps delay or prevent chronic illnesses and diseases associated with aging, and maintains quality of life and independence longer.

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