Remember those heady days, right around New Year’s Eve, when you made a resolution to finally get yourself a gym membership and start working out again? Because you were dedicated to making 2018 the year you shed those extra pounds or toned your physique or just led a healthier life.

Easier said than done, right? By the time February rolls around, many of us have either forgotten or neglected those annual resolutions. In large part because it’s hard to get motivated to alter your routine, carve out an hour or two for something new, or fit a different activity into your daily life. It’s much easier to stick with what you know, past goals and promises notwithstanding.

That’s entirely understandable. But I have a better reason than New Year’s resolutions for you to hop off the couch and get moving on a treadmill or a local bike path: every time you exercise, you strengthen the one muscle that is absolutely non-negotiable for a happy, healthy life – your heart.

The Great Motivator: How Exercise Can Help Your Heart

According to the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health, inactive people are nearly twice as likely to develop heart disease as those who are more active.

Exercising on a regular basis, on the other hand, has immense benefits, seen and unseen. Chief among them: by living a more active lifestyle, you can reduce your risk of heart problems. You can improve cardiac function, muscle strength, joint mobility, and your sense of wellbeing. You can keep your blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar down at normal levels. You can help avoid being struck by heart disease, one of the two leading causes of death in the United States.

All it takes – alongside a better diet and healthier life overall – is carving out around 150 minutes a week for moderate-intensity aerobic activity. Put another way, just 30 minutes of brisk walking or light exercise per weekday will do wonders for your heart. Trust me: it’s worth it.

This is personal for me. At the young age of 56, my father passed away from a heart attack. I know the toll it takes when we don’t take care of our hearts. I don’t want others to endure the same pain my family did far too early.

Thankfully, many of these heart health challenges are preventable. Better yet, when you take the steps that are in your control – like exercising and eating right – you feel the benefits almost immediately. In fact, after focusing on a cardio training program for a couple of weeks, exercise will become easier and everyday tasks won’t leave you short of breath as easily. And whether you can sense it or not, your heart will become more efficient at pumping blood; your heart will have to work less to sustain bodily functions; and your heart will be stronger, for longer, overall.

Here’s the bottom line: skip talk of your overdue resolutions. Pick up a hobby that’ll do good for your heart and your health. It can be walking, running, cycling, dancing, swimming, and really anything that gets your heart rate going. All of it will prove a net positive for you, your health, your well-being, and your happiness now and down the road.

Samantha Clayton

Samantha ClaytonOLY, ISSA-CPT – Vice President, Sports Performance and Fitness Education

Samantha Clayton serves as the vice president of Sports Performance and Fitness Education at Herbalife. She is also the Vice Chair of the Fitness Advisory Board. Clayton represented Great Britain at the 2000 Sydney Olympics in both the 200m and the 4x100m relay events. She is a certified personal trainer with specialty certifications in group fitness, youth fitness programming, senior fitness and athletic conditioning. Clayton has an associate degree in pharmaceutical science and studied chemistry at the University of Wolverhampton. She then went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in public health and a master’s in medical nutrition from American Public University and Arizona State University, respectively. As a mother of four, she enjoys cheering for her kids at their sporting activities. Her favorite Herbalife product is Herbalife24® Rebuild Strength.