Physical activity is one of the best things a person can do for maintaining their heart and body. According to a John Hopkins research, regular exercise with a Mediterranean-style diet, maintaining a normal weight, and not smoking or drinking is a great protection plan against coronary artery and vascular diseases.
Importance of exercising
For several heart conditions, exercise is as beneficial as some medications. Therefore, understanding how physical activity benefits your heart can be a strong motivation to get moving. Here is how physical activity benefits our heart health.
1. Lowers blood pressure
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and being more physically active can lower both your systolic and diastolic pressure. Regular exercise also helps in maintaining a healthy weight, which is another important way to control blood pressure.
2. Strengthens muscles
A combination of aerobic workouts and strength training is considered best for heart health. These exercises help in improving the muscles’ ability to draw oxygen from the circulating blood, which in turn reduces the need for the heart, a muscular organ itself, to work harder to pump more blood to the muscles.
3. Controls weight
Being physically active is an essential component for losing weight and even more important for keeping it off, which can help optimise heart health. Additionally, it provides several other benefits when combined with a smart diet. Being overweight puts stress on the heart and is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
4. Helps in quit smoking
As smokers become more fit, they often quit smoking. And people who are fitness conscious in the first place are less likely to ever start smoking, which is one of the top risk factors for heart disease because it damages the structure and function of blood vessels.
5. Slows the development of diabetes
The same Johns Hopkins research suggests that when combined with strength training, regular aerobic exercise such as cycling, brisk walking, or swimming can reduce the risk of developing diabetes by over 50%. This happens as the body is allowing the muscles to better process glycogen, which is a fuel for energy. Any impairment of this fuel leads to excessive blood sugars, and thus diabetes.
6. Lowers stress
Stress hormones can put an extra burden on the heart. Exercises such as aerobic (like running), resistance-oriented (like weight training), or flexibility-focused (like yoga) helps in relaxing and easing stress which is one of the most frequent causes of strokes and heart attacks.
For ideal heart health, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or at least 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week.
In addition, a study published in September 2017 in The Lancet found that some routine activities, such as gardening or doing household chores, are as good as structured exercise routines. Researchers found taking part in any kind of physical activity reduced the risk of heart disease by 20% and the risk of death from any cause by 28%.