According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is one of the leading causes of death for men and women. Regular exercise will decrease the risk of heart disease and will also ensure a healthier and stronger heart. But did you know that lack of exercise is one of the risk factors for developing heart disease? Several years ago, the American Heart Association added inactivity to its list of risk factors. Other risk factors include family history, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity. So, how then does exercising prevent heart disease?
Over the past four decades, numerous scientific reports have examined the relationships between physical activity, physical fitness, and cardiovascular health. Expert groups convened by organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Heart Association (AHA), as well as the 1996 report of the United States Surgeon General on physical exercises strengthened the scientific evidence linking regular physical activity to various measures of cardiovascular health. The prevailing view in these reports is that more active or fit people tend to develop fewer coronary heart disease (CHD) than their sedentary counterparts.
A report by American Heart Association states that as many as 25, 000 deaths per year in the united states are linked to lack of exercise. In addition, studies that have followed large groups of people for many years have documented the protective effects of physical exercise for a number of chronic non-cardiovascular diseases. These diseases include non-insulin-dependent diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, and colon cancer. In contrast, there is a higher rate of cardiovascular events and a higher mortality rate among people with low levels of physical fitness. Even an increase in physical activity in the Middle Ages, by occupation or recreational activities, is associated with a decrease in mortality. Despite this evidence, however, the vast majority of adults in the United States remain effectively sedentary.
How Does Exercising Prevent Heart Disease?
We will be looking at ways regular exercising can prevent heart diseases
1. Build a Strong Heart
When you train daily, your heart gets stronger. Your heart will start to pump more blood throughout your body while it is beating and you will be able to work at your maximum level without becoming tense or weak. Your blood pressure will also decrease, which will reduce the risk of heart disease.
2. Weight Control
Exercise plays an important role in losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight. People who keep their body mass index (BMI) at 25 or less will face less heart disease. Exercising in the gym and losing those pounds will keep your heart healthy.
3. Lower Cholesterol
Exercise will also lower cholesterol because proteins in the body will be of a certain size and will be able to travel more easily through the blood without the possibility of accumulating.
Additionally, research shows that exercise can increase levels of High-Density Lipotene, the so-called “good” cholesterol, which has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease. A meta-analysis of 52 training trials with almost 5,000 subjects showed a reduction in triglyceride and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels. Exercising five days a week for about 40 minutes can prevent heart disease.
4. Improves Blood Circulation
Cardiovascular exercise improves blood circulation. This can help to reduce the risk of developing clots or blockages in the arteries.
5. Helps in Stress Management
Exercise helps control stress, which can affect the whole body, but especially the heart. People who exercise are generally less depressed and have a more positive attitude.
6. Reduces Blood Pressure
High blood pressure means your heart is working more than you need. This will put additional stress on the heart at high risk for serious problems. Your heart is a muscle, and like any other muscle in your body, when you train, you can get stronger. A stronger heart can pump more blood with less effort. Three months of regular aerobic exercise at the correct levels will cause a drop in blood pressure.
Discoveries from researches have also shown that regular exercising help to prevent heart diseases in the following ways:
- People with heart failure can also benefit from exercises that increase the heart’s ability to pump blood over time and improves quality of life. In 15 controlled trials, for example, physical exercise has been found to increase maximum cardiac output by more than 20%.
- A review of studies over the past half-century shows that physical activity reduces the risk of coronary heart disease. The most physically active subjects generally had disease rates 50% lower than those who were sedentary.
- Researchers found that heart attack patients who participated in a formal exercise program experienced a reduced mortality rate of 20 to 25 percent. Some studies have shown an even higher reduction rate. Several major reviews of previous research also conclude that patients who participate in exercise-based rehabilitation after a heart attack are more likely to live longer.
- According to Elijah Saunders, MD, head of the hypertension section of the cardiology division of the University of Maryland medical school, exercise helps control blood pressure because it stimulates “nitric oxide,” which keeps open blood vessels.
- A review of studies over the past half-century shows that physical activity reduces the risk of coronary heart disease. The most physically active subjects generally had 50% lower disease rates than those who were sedentary.
How Much Exercise is Enough?
According to the American Heart Association, exercising 30 minutes a day, five days a week, will improve your heart health and help reduce your risk of heart disease. They define “physical activity” as anything that makes you move and burn calories. These activities can include climbing stairs, playing sports, walking, jogging, swimming, biking and more.
No matter what you do, all the studies indicate that some exercises are better than none. According to a particular review, people who participated in 150 minutes of moderate intensity leisure activities per week had a 14% lower risk of coronary heart disease than those who had not reported exercise. The more you exercise, the lower your risk. Therefore to prevent heart disease, you must have to make exercising your priority. The Mayo Clinic suggests that you can even take 10-minute intervals several times a day.
The Risks of Lack of Exercises
As earlier stated, up to 25,000 deaths, a year in the United States can be attributed to a lack of regular exercise. Living a sedentary or inactive lifestyle has always been one of the top five risk factors for heart disease. People with low fitness levels also experience a higher rate of cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and death.
Furthermore, according to research from the University of South Carolina, men who reported more than 23 hours of sedentary activity per week had a 64% higher risk of dying from heart disease than those who reported less than 11 hours. Inactivity also affects other risk factors for heart disease. For instance, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, sedentary people have a 35% higher risk of developing high blood pressure than physically active people.
Summary and Recommendation
The heart needs exercise like any other muscle. The muscles that are used regularly become stronger and healthier, while the muscles that are not used become weak. As you exercise, the heart can pump more blood to the body and continue working at maximum efficiency with little stress. This will likely help you stay healthy longer. Regular exercise also helps keep arteries and other blood vessels flexible, ensuring good blood circulation and normal blood pressure.
It is never too late to start. A German study found that people who regularly exercised during their lifetime were 60% less likely to be diagnosed with coronary heart disease than sedentary people. But those who only became physically active after the age of 40 were 55% less likely to be diagnosed with heart disease than those who had been inactive their whole life. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if you are below 40 or above, you can start exercising today in order to prevent heart disease.
It is advisable to always check with your doctor before starting an exercise program. They can help you find activities that improve your heart health without the risk of injury.
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