Activity will keep the heart healthy, JMU expert says

JMU News

HARRISONBURG, Va. — Remaining active is the key to improving heart health along with limiting sedentary time, a JMU researcher says.

“It’s not possible for people to exercise for hours and hours during the day every day, but doing something regular most days of the week is really important,” said Trent Hargens, kinesiology professor. “Separate from that, individuals need to limit their sedentary time, or put simply, the time they are sitting around. Research has shown that, even in individuals who exercise regularly but spend a lot of time during the rest of the day sitting, their risk for chronic disease is higher than those who exercise regularly and limit their sedentary time.”

Hargens has worked with individuals of all ages with and without heart conditions. He says that the biggest misconception is the “I can’t do it” or the “I’m too old for this” mindset.

“The exercises that are particularly beneficial for heart health are the ones that you will do,” Hargens said. “There is no magic, single type of exercise that is best, especially if it’s one you wouldn’t find particularly enjoyable. If you don’t like it, you won’t do it.”

Exercise can decrease the risk for developing, or improve the status of, high-risk factors for heart-related diseases. For individuals already diagnosed with heart disease, regular exercise can decrease the risk of a heart-related event, such as a heart attack, and can increase the survivability with the disease.

When looking at specific areas to target, he suggests that individuals combine elements of aerobic and muscle strengthening and add flexibility and balance exercises.

“There is no magic pill you can take to dramatically improve your overall health,” Hargens said. “Physical activity and exercise are the closest things you can get to that magic pill. Exercise is medicine.”



Contact: Eric Gorton,

Back to Top

Published: Monday, February 26, 2024

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Related Articles