You might have heard this through doctors, magazines, news anchors, television shows: they all keep telling you that exercise is great for your heart health and improving it. Yet you might also be wondering, is there any evidence backing this up, or are they just trying to get everyone on treadmills?
As a matter of fact, there is! Established proof clearly shows that you can enhance the health of your heart with just a half an hour a day of working out or exercising. Furthermore, the research that has been done shows that if you live a sedentary lifestyle, then your risk of heart disease killing you is twice as much as it could be.
You probably already accept and know that having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking are all things that can hurt your heart, but did you know that having a lifestyle where your career and leisure time involve either no or very little physical activity, you’re in just as much danger? Kaiser Permanente knows and has the data to show it.
Even if you split a half an hour of daily exercise into three 10-minute bursts across your day, there are 5 primary benefits to your heart health. Keep reading to learn what they are:
1) Make your heart muscle stronger: Your heart is an organ made mostly of muscle. So, physical activity that is moderate or vigorous in intensity and regular in frequency will make your heart a stronger organ. You improve your heart’s capacity for pumping blood both throughout the lungs and your overall body. The increase in efficiency means less strain, and so your resting pulse rate should eventually be slower than someone who doesn’t exercise. You might think cardio alone is the way to go here, but research tends to show that combining strength training with aerobic workouts is the optimum choice.
2) Enhance your cholesterol: Regular exercise boosts the levels of the good cholesterol in your body, which is the HDL or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. That happens because LDL, the bad low-density lipoprotein cholesterol is flushed out so it can’t clog your arteries anymore. Regular workouts also help lower a blood fat known as triglycerides. Johns Hopkins Medicine notes that for a number of heart issues, working out regularly is just as effective as some prescription medications. Over six thousand patients were tracked for almost a decade, and regular workouts turned out to be one of four critical lifestyle factors that could reduce risks of mortality from any cases by 80 percent!
3) Lower your blood pressure: Many American adults are fighting this battle already, having to live with prescription medications to manage this considerable risk factor for things like heart disease. Routine workouts function much like beta-blockers as they slow heart rate and bring blood pressure down. That also happens both when you exercise and when you’re resting. The New York Times notes that someone who is not physically active has a 35-percent higher risk of high blood pressure. Kaiser Permanente notes that regular exercise can lower blood pressure between five, six, and seven points.
4) Improve your blood vessel health: Regular physical activity can make the tiny blood vessels called capillaries to actually widen. They’re all over your body, and they are what carries oxygen to cells and waste products away. New capillaries are stimulated by exercise, so you get more blood flow and better circulation. When blood flows better in the many small blood vessels surrounding your heart, you start cutting down on your risk of a heart attack. On top of this, Kaiser Permanente notes that exercise might even help new blood vessels serve as new routes if older ones are blocked by fatty deposits or narrowed arteries.
5) Losing weight: If you pair up routine physical activity with a routinely healthy diet, then you’re going to shed unwanted pounds, and you’ll also have a better chance of keeping them off. The less weight and mass your body has, the less your heart has to pump blood for, lowering your odds of heart disease and stroke.
On a final note, Johns Hopkins Medicine points out that regular workouts lower both stress levels and chronic inflammation. Both of them are known contributors to many various forms of heart disease.
If you’d like to learn even more about this, the following 5 resources were used in the research and writing of this article: