Skip to Content

View Additional Section Content

How much exercise do I need to stay heart-healthy?

You should perform 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per day. 

What counts as aerobic activity?

Any activity that gets you breathing harder and your heart beating faster at a moderate intensity. Walking is a great aerobic activity, and probably the simplest way to start an exercise routine. It is easy, safe and free! Other options include cycling on a stationary or regular bike, swimming, jogging, and other aerobic machines such as elliptical machines and stair climbers.

How do I measure the intensity of my aerobic activity?

The talk test is a simple way to measure intensity. If you are able to sing a song during the activity, then you are doing low-intensity activity and should try to pick up the pace. If you are able to talk, but not sing, during the activity, then you are doing moderate-intensity activity. If you are only able to say a few words without pausing for a breath during the activity, then you are doing vigorous-intensity activity. The goal is to maintain a moderate level of intensity during aerobic activities. Another way of monitoring intensity is to determine your target heart rate. For moderate-intensity aerobic activity, your target heart rate should be between 50% and 70% of your maximum heart rate.  

The American Heart Association offers information, tools and resources to get started walking.

Fitting exercise into your routine

Thirty minutes per day can seem like a lot, but the good news is you can divide it up into two 15-minute sessions or three 10-minute sessions per day and still receive the heart-healthy benefits of aerobic activity. Any time of the day is a great time of the day to exercise. You just need to take into account your personal schedule and energy level. The main thing is to consistently make time for exercise. There are lots of ways to get the physical activity that you need; sometimes you just have to get creative!  Here are a few tips to incorporate exercise into your daily routine:

  • Use the stairs when possible.
  • Do yard work such as raking leaves, gardening and mowing (a riding lawn mower doesn't count).
  • Wash your car by hand.
  • Take the dog for a walk. Bring a friend along!
  • During work, take the long way to the restroom or mailroom.
  • Turn shopping into an aerobic activity by walking for 10 minutes straight in the mall before going into a store.
  • Play with your children or grandchildren for 30 minutes.
  • Park farther away at the store.

I’ve had a heart attack. Could cardiac rehabilitation benefit me?

University Hospital offers a cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation program to help people with cardiovascular conditions. If you have had chest pain, a heart attack, open heart surgery, coronary angioplasty or stents, heart valve replacement, heart transplant, congestive heart failure or peripheral arterial disease, you may benefit from cardiac rehabilitation.

Cardiovascular Appointments

To schedule an appointment, contact:

Cardiovascular medicine:
573-88-HEART (573-884-3278)

Cardiothoracic surgery: 

Vascular surgery: 

10 Tips for Healthier Holidays

Ashley Ritzo, RD, LDa clinical dietitian at MU Health Care, enjoys helping people meet their nutrition goals. She offers the following tips and recipe.


The holiday season is upon us once again. The average person gains from one-half to one pound between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Although this does not seem like much, it can add up over time. Here are some tips to help you enjoy the holidays healthfully and in moderation.

  1. Stop mindless eating. Put food away after everyone is finished to reduce grazing when not hungry.
  2. Don’t skip meals, even before a big holiday meal. Arriving to a holiday get-together ravenous practically guarantees overeating.
  3. Exercise. Try festive physical activities like walking around to look at lights or play football.
  4. Start new holiday traditions as an alternative to baking or eating, such as making ornaments, cards or gift wrap.
  5. Use smaller plates. Opt for a round 9-inch plate instead of a 9 x 12 plate with compartments.
  6. Eat smaller portions of grains and proteins and eat larger portions of fruits and vegetables to help fill you up and keep you feeling satisfied without as many calories.
  7. To enable yourself to eat smaller portions, eat slower. It takes 20 minutes for food to reach your small intestine where hormones are released, letting your brain know you’re full.
  8. Scan the table first and pick the food you love. Choose treats unique to holidays instead of food you can easily get throughout the year.
  9. Watch your beverage choices. Stay away from soda and juice. Try to drink water or other calorie-free beverages.
  10. Modify traditional recipes to make them healthier, such as the recipe below.

Pumpkin Pie in a Glass
(Makes 8 servings)
This recipe provides the taste of a Thanksgiving favorite without all the calories. It contains 123 calories per serving instead of 316 calories, the average amount for a slice of traditional pumpkin pie.

1 ½ cups skim milk
1 box (1 oz) instant butterscotch pudding mix
1 cup pure canned pumpkin
½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp. ground ginger
1 ½ cups fat-free whipped topping
4 oz. gingersnap cookies or graham crackers, crushed
8 cinnamon sticks, optional
24 pomegranate seeds, optional

In a medium bowl, beat milk and pudding mix for two minutes. Add pumpkin and beat for another minute. Add pumpkin pie spice and ginger and beat for an additional 10 seconds. Using a spatula, fold in one cup of the whipped topping. In each of eight shallow dessert cups, place two tablespoons of the gingersnap or graham cracker crumbs and top with ½ cup of the pumpkin mixture. Top each with a dollop of whipped topping and garnish with any remaining gingersnap crumbs. Garnish with cinnamon sticks or pomegranate seeds.