How Exercise Helps Improve Heart Health

by Jodee on August 4, 2010

There are definite health benefits to getting up off the couch and getting active. Not only does regular physical exercise help to lower your risk of heart disease and stroke, but it also helps to combat high blood pressure and diabetes (the non-insulin-dependent type). Doing an activity that will get your heart beating faster is a great way to relieve stress and it can help to alleviate the symptoms of depression.

Exercising regularly helps to strengthen the heart muscle and makes it more efficient at pumping blood through the body. It also helps by increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol levels (good cholesterol) and lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, in the body.

To get these health benefits, the recommended level of exercise is 20-30 minutes, three or more times each week. Stretching and muscle strengthening activities should also be part of an overall fitness plan, and they should be performed a couple of times per week.

People who haven’t been active for some time may want to start off slowly. Walking or swimming are good choices for former couch potatoes, since they can be done at the participant’s own pace to minimize the chance of injury. As the individual’s level of fitness improves, he or she can increase the intensity of the workout.

Other benefits of exercise include the following:

  • It reduces the risk of premature death, including dying from heart disease.
  • Getting active helps to bring blood pressure down to a more normal level.
  • Exercise helps with weight control.
  • It helps the participant to build lean muscle and burn fat.
  • Physical activity helps seniors to increase their body strength and helps them retain their mobility function without falling.

A person who wants to increase their level of physical activity should start off slowly to avoid injury. Simple things, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator and finding a parking space further away from the destination can help to keep to improve heart health.

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