Although most of us don’t like to do it, exercising, along with proper nutrition, is vital in staying healthy and helps us to live a long life.
This is especially true when it comes to heart health. Regular exercise is proven to lower your risk of heart disease. Exercising for just 30 minutes or more, five days a week can help you lose weight, improve your cholesterol and even lower your blood pressure. Most importantly it will make you feel better physically as well as mentally.
Sedentary lifestyles can double your risk of dying from heart disease. Being sedentary can be as risky for your heart as if you smoke, have high cholesterol or high blood pressure.
Exercise can be fun, fulfilling and quite easy. You don’t have to run a mile every day or lift heavy weights. In fact, studies have shown greater health benefits from light to moderate exercise simply because people are more likely to stick with it. And anyone at any age can exercise!
It is proven heart health improves with just 30 minutes of exercise on most days. Any exercise (e.g. walking, jogging, running) can work as long as the activity is vigorous enough to raise your heart rate. If time is an issue, you can even divide up your exercise into 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening. Get creative, find something you love and incorporate it into your fitness routine. There is an old test called the talk/sing test to see if your current exercise level is not enough or too strenuous. If you can’t talk while you exercise, you’re working too hard. If you can sing, you need to increase your amount.
As exercise strengthens other muscles in your body, it also helps your heart muscle become more efficient and better able to pump blood throughout your body. This means the heart pushes out more blood with each beat, allowing it to beat slower and keep your blood pressure under control.
With regular exercise, your body’s tissue does a better job of removing oxygen from your blood. This allows your heart to work more efficiently under stress and decreases your shortness of breath during high-intensity activities.
Physical activity also allows better blood flow in the small blood vessels around your heart. Blockages in these arteries can lead to heart attacks. Exercise increases your levels of HDL cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol that lowers heart disease risk by flushing the artery-clogging LDL or “bad” cholesterol out of your system.
Along with lowering your risk for heart disease, exercise:
* Reduces body weight
* Releases hormones that improve mood
* Improves your balance and gait
* Increases bone mass and decreases chance of osteoporosis
* Provides more energy
* Helps you sleep more soundly
* May help you decrease or discontinue some of your medications (blood pressure and diabetes)
Your health care professional can help you design an exercise routine that’s right for you. If you have any existing health issues, make an appointment with your physician before you begin an exercise program.