If you are looking to improve or maintain the health of your heart, then exercise is one of the single biggest things you can do. It’s simple, it doesn’t need to cost anything and the rewards are invaluable.
Many people who are inactive and suffering from chronic disease, physical limitations or excess are of the impression that exercise is too hard for them to engage in. This doesn’t need to be the case. The simple act of walking more, some gentle stretching and light resistance movements can result in dramatic improvements in an individual’s mobility, confidence and overall wellbeing. In fact, exercise has so many benefits, it can reduce the need for a myriad of medications that often bring unpleasant side effects. An article in a leading Australian newspaper found that over half of Australians aged over 50 took more than five different prescription medicines every day!
Heart disease is a leading cause of death in Australia, resulting in around thirty per cent of deaths each year. In North East Victoria, more than one in twenty people suffer from heart disease. (Ref: Australian Heart Foundation and ABS)
According to the Australian Heart Foundation, inactivity leads to approximately 14,000 deaths per year. Compare that figure to tobacco, which claims around 15,000 lived per year and yet society seems very aware of the risks associated with smoking, yet dangerously unaware of the mortality rate linked to a sedentary lifestyle.
So, how can exercise prevent and manage heart disease?
Let’s take a look at some of the major risk factors for heart disease and how exercise relates to them:
High Blood Pressure:
In the same way that certain beta-blocker medications work, exercise can dramatically reduce blood pressure and slow the heart rate, both when exercising and at rest.
A high quality diet combined with regular exercise is the key to maintaining a healthy weight. With a staggering 63% of Australians now overweight or obese, thanks to a culture of processed and convenient food choices and sedentary lifestyles (sitting in front of screens or in motor vehicles), it is more important than ever to make the conscious effort to incorporate exercise in to your day.
Exercise helps to strengthen muscles and increase muscles ability to draw oxygen from your circulating blood. This means a load is taken off your heart and it doesn’t need to work as hard pumping more blood to your muscles. The system works!
Slowing the development of diabetes:
A study by Johns Hopkins Research Team showed that a combination of regular aerobic exercise (walking, cycling, swimming) and strength training can actually reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by up to 50%. When the muscles can process glycogen more efficiently (a fuel for energy), this avoids a build up of excess blood sugar levels.
Many smokers who begin to exercise actually find they cut down on the number of cigarettes they smoke. This, of course, is a huge factor in improving heart health.
As the body adapts to the requirements of different forms of exercise, it can also reduce inflammation in various bodily systems and result in a vastly improved quality of life for the individual.
Exercise can be different for everyone. If you’ve felt daunted by physical activity, try engaging the services of an accredited exercise physiologist. At North East Exercise Solutions, we understand that there isn’t a one size fits all solution and are passionate about finding the right fit for you. Take the first step today, contact our Wangaratta clinic.