Piscatella and Franklin state that “Americans do not exercise. We just buy exercise stuff.” About half of the American population admits to being completely inactive, but 97% of people place health as their number one priority. Many people do not make the link between exercise and health. Koplan, former Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, states that “Physical inactivity, along with overweight, accounts for more than 300,000 premature deaths each year in the Unites States.”
Exercise reduces the risk of heart attack by 50%. A regular exercise program benefits the heart in a number of ways.
- Strengthens the heart muscle. All muscle responds to physical activity by increasing in size and strength. This is the case for the heart muscle as well – it gets stronger and more efficient. Exercise improves the heart’s ability to pump and use oxygen. It has the ability to perform with less effort.
- Conditions the heart. Regular exercise can reduce the likelihood of an excessively fast heartbeat in response to physical or emotional stress. When the heart is needed to pump more blood to the muscles in response to strenuous activity it can speed up to 180 beats or more per minute. This can strain the heart and cause plaque rupturing, which can lead to a heart attack, potentially fatal heart irregularities or both. It is the same with emotional stress. A conditioned heart is able to keep racing heartbeats in check.
- Boost high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. High HDL is protective of the heart while lower levels raise the cardiac risks. Studies have found that walking 2 miles (3 1/4 kilometres), three times per week can raise the HDL by up to 10%. Greater increases may occur with more extensive exercise – but you don’t have to run a marathon to get an HDL boost. Moderate, regular exercise can provide the benefits.
- Protects the coronary arteries. The mechanism is not well understood but exercise seems to reduce arterial inflammation. It may help to do that by reducing stress and preventing the stress hormones such as cortisol from injuring the artery wall. It may help to protect the coronary arteries by controlling high blood pressure and improving the ability of the arteries to dilate.
- Reduces blood clotting. exercise stuff reduces the fibrinogen levels in the blood and reduces the risk of platelets sticking together. People who exercise are also able to dissolve blood clots more easily.
- Lowers blood pressure. The arteries are more able to expand and contract and respond to the blood needs of the body. Exercise also promotes weight loss, which in turn will reduce the blood pressure.
For a healthy heart you need to stay active. Everyone should aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of activity (which leaves you slightly breathless, but still able to carry on a conversation) every day. Incidental exercise can also count towards the 30 minutes. Being active also helps to keep the ‘good’ cholesterol at a healthy level.
You don’t have to go to the gym every day to achieve the recommended 30 minutes of activity. If you find exercising boring here are some suggestions to make it more fun.
- Get together with a friend for a game of tennis, badminton, volley ball or something else once a week.
- Enjoy beach volley ball on the weekends with friends.
- Join an aqua aerobics class.
- Go for a walk somewhere different once a week.
- Try a physical activity you’ve never done before – what about pilates or boxercise or karate or ballroom dancing.
- Create an early morning or weekend walking group with like minded friends – you can help keep each other motivated.
In addition to exercise there are many things that you can do to protect your body from the ravages of heart disease. Some of these things include a correct diet, cleansing the body with safe colon cleansing and taking essential vitamin and mineral supplements. You also need to reduce your stress levels with relaxation ad creative visualisation.