A sedentary (inactive) lifestyle is one of the top risk factors for heart disease. Exercise is beneficial for preventing heart ailments. It is also a major modifiable risk factor in reduction of non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases. Regular exercise of moderate intensity reduces the incidence of coronary events and mortality from CHD (Coronary Heart Disease) by around 50%. It is essential to remember that the body weight is affected by the balance of “calories consumed” and “calories-burned”.Benefits of regular exercise or some sort of intense physical activity is:-
1) Decrease workload on heart:-
Exercises that put the heart and lung to stress are called aerobic exercises. Aerobic exercise increases heart size and strength. The heart’s stroke volume is also increased. The heart then needs to pump fewer times per minute to circulate the same amount of blood. This represents a long-term reduction in the heart’s workload.
2) Increase HDL :-
Exercise raises blood levels of HDL (good cholesterol) creating a more favourable ratio of HDL to LDL (bad cholesterol). This effect is more marked in men, although high intensity exercise will have the same effect on women. Studies also show that, exercise stimulates enzymes that help move LDL from the blood (and blood-vessel walls) to the liver. From there, cholesterol is converted into bile (for digestion) or excreted. So, the more you exercise, the more LDL your body expels and your blood’s LDL gets lowered, which protects you from heart disease.
3) Improvement in blood circulation:-
Exercise enhances the circulatory system by increasing the oxygen carrying capacity of blood and increases the blood volume. Regular physical activity increases Lipo protein lipase concentration which in turn reduces CHD risk. This is because lipase enzyme plays a role in the digestion of the fat.
4) Lowers blood pressure :-
Exercise help in lowering blood pressure levels by improving endothelial vasodilator function and left ventricular diastolic function. In lay man language, it means, exercise lowers blood pressure levels.
5) Lower blood sugar level:-
Exercise increases the sensitivity of the cell so that cells can utilize insulin very effectively. During exercise, when muscles contract, it allows your body cells to consume the glucose irrespective of whether insulin is available or not.
6) Exercise lowers your stress levels:-
While exercising, the happy hormone or Serotonin gets released into the body. Serotonin keeps your stress level down and also controls emotional eating.
Exercise also keeps your cravings for junk and unhealthy food in control, which is amongst the most common reasons for heart diseases. Junk food contains saturated fat which is not good for the heart and it even contains high amounts of sugar, which lead to an increase in the body's glucose levels.
In general, to achieve maximum benefits, you should gradually work up to an aerobic session of at least 20 to 30 minutes, at least three to four times a week. Exercising every other day will help you maintain a regular aerobic exercise schedule. Every exercise session should include a warm up phase, a strengthening phase, and a cool-down (stretching) phase. “Being fit is more important than weight or body mass index for heart health,” says Martha Gulati, M.D., the lead author of the study and an associate professor of medicine at Ohio State University in Columbus.
Due to Indian genetic risk of heart diseases and diabetes, Indians are recommended to exercise for 5 days a week, at 40-50 minutes. But as we said earlier, work your stamina up from a slow start.
So along with diet, exercise plays a major role in the health of the heart, so never skip your exercise session. Make it a permanent part of your lifestyle and you will reap it's long term health benefits.