We’ve all heard it before: we should exercise more and eat healthier. But what specifically, can it do for your heart?
Many studies have been done on the topic of exercise with respect to its cardiovascular benefits. The latest findings are that exercising 30 minutes a day can help a person lose weight, lower cholesterol levels, and reduce blood pressure by an average of 5-7 points. Exercise strengthens the muscles of the body, including the heart, which is also a muscle. It helps the heart work more effectively at pumping blood throughout the body.
On the other hand, it is long-established that leading a sedentary lifestyle, sitting for a large portion of the day or night, can have a negative effect on your heart health. Some have called sitting the modern-day equivalent of smoking.
So, implementing a moderate exercise program that lasts a half hour each day has two advantages. One, it can improve your cardiovascular condition. Two, you’re more likely to stick with this type of lifestyle change if the exercise time frame is short enough that it can be done easily and not interfere with your other activities.
Those 30 minutes of exercise each day can be broken up into two 15-minute periods or even three 10-minute periods – it doesn’t have to be done all at once.
How much or how intensely you should exercise will depend upon your current fitness level and any health-related obstacles. There is also an easy way of determining the proper rate of exertion: if you can sing while exercising, you’re not working hard enough. On the other hand, if you cannot talk while exercising, you’re working too hard.
Retraining the Heart
Exercise enhances blood flow in the small blood vessels around the heart where clogs and clots can lead to heart attacks. Exercise also helps the heart become more resilient.
In particular, a specific type of exercise appears to offer cardiovascular protection. Interval training – similar to “warm-up angina” or ischemic preconditioning – involves periods of exercise in which impaired blood flow improves with successive efforts. That is, initial exposure to exercise-induced ischemia (reduced blood flow) strengthens the heart to better deal with future episodes of ischemia.
Think of an exercise program as an insurance policy for the heart, particularly in light of the fact that insurance companies may be reluctant to cover the cost of expensive testing – especially for those with risk factors for heart disease but who are currently asymptomatic.
If you have a family history of heart disease, the best thing you can do is get your heart checked out by a cardiologist, who can put you on a program to reduce your likelihood of a heart attack. Contact Endeavor Physical Therapy & Wellness by calling (512) 284-7192 or request an appointment now and let them come up with a plan of physical fitness or rehabilitation that will stave off any heart problems for years to come.