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N Touch
Thursday 22 February 2018

Exercise and cardiovascular health

Over the past four decades, numerous scientific reports have examined the relationships between physical activity, physical fitness, and cardiovascular health. The prevailing view of these reports have been that the more active or fit an individual is, the less likely they are to develop coronary heart disease (CHD), unlike their sedentary counterparts.

If CHD develops in active or fit individuals, it occurs at a later age and tends to be less severe.

How exercise helps the heart “One of the key benefits of exercise is that it helps to control or modify many of the risk factors for heart disease,” says Dr Kerry J Stewart, Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Exercise has benefits in and of itself, however, the best way to prevent heart disease is to combine exercise with a healthy diet. Exercise alone can help with weight loss over a long period of time. But a short-term approach is to reduce the number of calories you take in through diet, while increasing the calories you use through exercise.

Exercise has many positive effects on heart health. A regular exercise routine can: • Help lower blood pressure • Lessen risk of developing diabetes • Help Maintain healthy body weight • Reduce inflammation throughout the body • Improve the muscles’ ability to pull oxygen out of the blood, reducing the need for the heart to pump more blood to the muscles.

• Reduce stress hormones that can put an extra burden on the heart.

• Work like a beta blocker to slow the heart rate and lower blood pressure.

• Increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or “good” cholesterol and helps control triglycerides.

Researchers have found that patients who suffered heart attacks and who participated in a formal exercise programme, reduced the death rate by 20 to 25 per cent. In addition, patients with newly diagnosed heart diseases who participated in exercise programmes, reported an earlier return to work and improvements in other measures of quality of life, including a boost in their selfconfidence, lower stress, and less anxiety.

Ideal exercise for the heart The American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine both recommend combining aerobic exercise (jogging, swimming, and biking) with resistance training (moderate weightlifting). Together, these two categories of exercise produce the greatest benefit for preventing and managing heart disease.

However, if you currently suffer from cardiovascular disease, you should get advice from your medical practitioner to assist in creating a workout plan that is tailored to your unique needs.


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