Heart Disease and Exercise
Statistics on exercise and heart disease indicate that the condition is twice as likely to develop in inactive people as it is in those who are physically active. Regular exercise also reduces the effects of other risk factors. It only takes 30 minutes a day to minimize your chances for heart disease -- anything from brisk walking to gardening to playing sports can be considered exercise.
How Does Exercise Affect Heart Disease?
Coronary heart disease is the major cause of heart disease and heart attack in America. It develops when fatty deposits (called plaque) build up on the inner walls of the blood vessels feeding the heart, called coronary arteries. Eventually, one or more of the major coronary arteries may become blocked -- either by the buildup of deposits or by a blood clot forming in the artery's narrowed passageway. The result is a heart attack.
Various studies have shown that physical inactivity is one of the six independent risk factors for heart disease that a person can control (the others being high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and smoking). Overall, the results show that heart disease is almost twice as likely to develop in inactive people as in those who are more active.
While regular physical activity (even mild to moderate) can directly help reduce your risk for heart disease, exercise can also help reduce the impact of other heart disease risk factors. Consider the following facts about the benefits of exercise:
- Burning calories through exercise may help you lose weight or stay at your desirable weight -- which also helps lower your risk of heart disease (click BMI Calculator to find your ideal weight)
- Cholesterol research has shown that not only can exercise lower LDL cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol), it can also raise HDL cholesterol ("good" cholesterol)
- Hypertension research has shown that exercise can lower both systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure
- Exercise reduces the risk for type 2 diabetes.