Exercise And Heart Health

By Shelby Stoner, PHASE IV Exercise Physiologist

Exercise is medicine. It’s the global health initiative implemented by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) that encourages physicians and other health care professionals to promote physical activity when designing treatment plans in order to reduce cardiac risk factors. Nowadays, we all know someone who has high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or have them yourself. All of these things including your family history and lifestyle affect your heart health and the sooner you take control of these things the better off you’ll be. If heart disease runs in your family, you can significantly decrease the risk of developing or dying from heart disease by remaining physically active, whether it’s competing in marathons or simply taking a 30 min walk every day, helps keep these risk factors in check.

Everybody can benefit from regular exercise, down to the cellular level. It’s also no question that our hearts love exercise too, many studies have found that individuals who exercise regularly are less likely to develop or die from cardiac disease than their sedentary counterparts. Exercise is known to improve our blood pressure, pulse rate, and cholesterol profiles, all of which are associated with cardiac health. In addition, physical activity helps you

  • Stay healthier, live longer
  • Have more energy to do the things you enjoy
  • Manage stress
  • Improve metabolism!

Just like lifting weights helps strengthen our skeletal muscles; regular aerobic exercise helps your heart muscle become more efficient and creates a better pump for getting blood out to the rest of the body. Therefore, the heart can push out more blood per beat so it doesn’t have to work as hard (i.e. allow it to beat slower) and keep blood pressure under control.

By exercising regularly, your body’s tissues (including the heart) do a better job of extracting oxygen from the blood. When this adaptation occurs, the heart works better under stress and helps you from getting “winded” during your activities.

In addition, regular aerobic exercise promotes blood flow in the small blood vessels around your heart. When the main arteries of the heart become clogged or blocked by fatty deposits, this is what commonly leads to disease and heart attacks. However, there’s evidence to suggest that exercise helps your body make more branches and connections between these smaller blood vessels, so there are other routes for your blood to travel if the usual path is blocked by narrow arteries.

Exercise also increases your levels of HDL cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol that lowers heart disease risk by flushing the artery-clogging LDL or “bad” cholesterol out of your system.

Just HOW MUCH exercise is required in order to produce these results?

The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week, or 30 minutes per day 5x a week. Which leaves the question, what exactly IS moderate intensity physical activity anyways?!

“Moderate activity means that your heart is beating faster. You can still carry on a conversation, but you’ll be breathing heavier. And you’ll notice that you’re starting to sweat” –American Heart Association

Unfortunately, many people are discouraged from the idea of exerting themselves, thinking the only way to do so is to sit on a stationary bike or run on the treadmill. What they don’t realize is that, yes, exercise can be fun!!!

Summer calls for more sunshine, longer days and warmer temperatures, with opportunities to be physically active around every corner. From the park and the pool, to the sidewalk and the backyard, the outside world calls! Now is the perfect time to establish a get-fit routine. Not only do you get the chance to enjoy the warmer weather and longer days, you’ll also have a routine to carry with you into winter.

There are countless possibilities to meet the recommended exercise guidelines, including but not limited to: Walking at a brisk pace, riding a bike to work, treading water, playing a game of volleyball or badminton, even doing continuous gardening chores (such as weeding and mulching)!

At PHASE IV, we specialize in creating science based programming to reach your goals in a healthy and sustainable manner. Using the knowledge from our highly credentialed staff of Physical Therapists, Nutritionists, and Exercise Physiologists, we can help you reach peak fitness with our team of experts underneath one roof.

Call us to schedule a complimentary 30-minute health and fitness consultation at our facility in Santa Monica. 310-582-8212

Please follow and like us: