Regular exercise has the potential to improve overall health, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 21% of American people fulfill the organization’s physical activity guidelines.
For most adults, this means 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking, or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise, such as running, per week, plus two weekly strength-training sessions.
But what effect does regular exercise have on the heart in particular? And what effect does all of this exertion have on our overall health?
Regular exercise not only develops muscles but also aids the heart in pumping blood throughout the body. Check out these seven heart-healthy reasons why you should include regular cardiovascular activity in your fitness routine:
1. Lower blood pressure
With each beat, a healthy heart pumps out more blood, allowing it to work more efficiently. This reduces the amount of stress on the heart and surrounding arteries, possibly lowering blood pressure.
Cardiovascular exercise can help you lower your blood pressure if you have it. If you don’t already have high blood pressure, exercise can help keep it from getting worse as you get older.
2. Improve blood flow.
Regular cardio-based physical exercise helps the heart achieve better blood flow in the small veins that surround it, where fatty deposits can build up over time and cause blockages. Improved circulation in these locations may reduce the risk of heart attacks.
Exercise has also been shown to stimulate the body to form additional physical connections between these small blood arteries, giving the blood more options for getting where it needs to go.
3. Improve workout efficiency.
It may take some time for your body to acclimate to a faster pace when you start a new workout plan that involves cardio activities. However, the more you exercise on a regular basis, the faster your body will draw vital oxygen from your blood during workouts.
People who exercise regularly have hearts that perform better under stress and are less winded during exercise activities as a result of this. Regular cardio also helps your body recuperate faster after a workout.
4. Lower cholesterol.
Many studies show that exercise is linked to health improvements in cholesterol, such as increasing the amount of healthy HDL cholesterol and possibly lowering bad LDL cholesterol by as much as 10 percent.
5. Decrease risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Studies show regular exercise helps reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by as much as 21 percent for men and 29 percent for women.
Additionally, active people have a 20 percent less chance of stroke. Regular exercise also helps keep blood sugar levels in a healthy range and, in turn, helps lower the risk for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
6. Promote other heart-healthy habits.
According to the American Heart Association, regular exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight, make better nutrition choices, decrease stress and improve your mood.
7. Reduce the incidence of heart arrhythmia, like atrial fibrillation (AFib).
AFib is a common cardiac rhythm disorder that carries a five-fold greater risk of a blood clot-related stroke.
According to study findings published by the American Heart Association, the incidence of AFib was lowered by half in patients who exercised consistently with a short-term, high-intensity interval training routine.
Consult your doctor before beginning any new fitness program to determine the best method to incorporate cardiovascular activity into your daily routine.
Your doctor can not only assist you in developing a plan that progressively builds your capacity for cardiovascular activity, but he or she can also help you establish baselines for blood pressure, resting heart rate, and cholesterol that will allow you to follow your progress.