• Cardiovascular

    Mayo Clinic Minute: How much exercise do you need for a healthy heart?

There are many exercise programs that guarantee to help you get in shape and improve your cardiovascular health. But how much exercise do you really need to be heart-healthy? And what type of exercise is best?

In this Mayo Clinic Minute, reporter Vivien Williams talks to Dr. Stephen Kopecky, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist, about exercise and what you need to do for good heart health.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video pkg (0:59) is in the downloads. Read the script.

Aerobic exercise is good for you. Everyone knows that. But how much do you really need?

"Most of us feel that you need to be active at least three or four times a week," says Dr. Kopecky. "Why? Because our bodies are set up that if you don't use your muscle within about 48 hours, it starts to do bad things."

Dr. Kopecky says those bad things include muscle shrinkage, because your body thinks it doesn't need the muscle anymore, and an increase in belly fat.

The American Heart Association recommends healthy adults get 150 minutes of moderate activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. Dr. Kopecky says interval training is a great way to get good results in a short amount of time.

"If you can do like three intervals, going hard for a minute or two, getting your breath back, and then going hard a couple times for a minute or two," he says.

You get the same benefits in 10 minutes of intervals as you do in 45 minutes of steady state. Moving reduces your risk of heart attack, stroke, some cancers, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease.