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Exercise – A Key to Cardiovascular Health

Did you know that, in 2004, cardiovascular disease, or CVD, was responsible for more than one in three adult deaths in the United States? That’s right – 871,000 American adults died that year from CVD.

There are many risk factors when it comes to CVD: cigarette smoking, hypertension, high cholesterol and/or triglycerides. One of the easiest to manage, though, is physical activity. Did you know that a lack of physical activity is about as damaging to your heart as smoking? Even so, about one in four adults in the United States have no significant physical activity, according to the American Heart Association.
The risks of physical inactivity increase as you go down the socioeconomic ladder. The less money you make, and the less education you have, the more likely you are to lack physical activity.

But here’s the deal: all you have to do is come up with 30 minutes a day to help your heart. And no, you don’t have to buy an exercise machine, or run five miles. Activities like working in the yard, climbing bleachers at the high school stadium, walking around your neighborhood, and even dancing, all count as valuable exercise for your heart. If you can get you blood moving even more, as with rollerblading, swimming, or riding a bike, that’s even better because those types of exercise tend to be more strenuous.

Even if your cholesterol is low, and your doctor says that you are fine at your physical, here are some reasons why exercise can help your cardiovascular health:

  • Exercise cuts down on stress, and stress taxes your cardiovascular system.
  • Exercise naturally increases HDL (”good”) cholesterol and drives LDL (“bad”) cholesterol out of your blood vessels.
  • If you exercise, your kids will too. If you sit and watch television all day, then your kids will do that instead.
  • Exercise helps you keep your weight where you want it, without having to cut back on most of the foods you like.
  • Exercise helps you go to sleep when you want to, and generally sleep restfully all night. Lack of sleep is a major risk factor for heart disease.
  • Exercise streamlines your blood circulation, which keeps your entire circulatory system cleaner, reducing the risk of heart disease.

These are just some of the many benefits that exercise can bring to you – there are many more that have nothing to do with your heart. If you want to have a healthy heart into your seventies and eighties, a daily exercise regimen is the place to start.


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