Role of Exercise
There are quite a few ways to keep your heart healthy. Using diet, exercise or medication can help to maintain a healthy heart. Many people find that exercise alone is a simple way to lower the risk of heart attack or stroke without drastic changes to your lifestyle. Following an exercise plan is not difficult and no special equipment is required. Just adding a walking program to your daily routine is enough to influence many of the factors that cause heart disease.
Exercise builds muscle. Your heart is a combination of smooth muscle and connective tissue. Just as exercise increases the strength of the muscles in your body, it also increases the strength of your heart. The human heart reacts to exercise by increasing its pace for a short period of time. This increase in beats per minute sends more oxygen-rich blood to the working muscles in the body. Exercise which is slowly increased over time allows your heart to become accustomed to meeting the increased demand for oxygen. Exercise programs eventually cause the heart to beat at a slower and more efficient pace during regular activities. Exercise is the perfect way to condition your heart to be strong and steady.
Exercise also decreases your total body weight. This is important because most heart disease is found in people with excess fat on their bodies. Weighing more than is ideal for your body type causes your heart to work much harder when pumping blood throughout the body. Exercise also causes the body to maintain more muscle. This muscle burns more calories than fat, even while the muscles are at rest. A muscular person tends to have lower cholesterol levels than a person who is overweight. Lower cholesterol levels contribute to a healthy cardiovascular system.
Many physicians recommend exercise to patients who have had heart problems in the past. Adding small amounts of exercise to a normally sedentary lifestyle reduces the risk of additional heart issues. Cardiovascular or aerobic exercises are considered to be the most important for heart health. These types of exercises increase the heart rate to a level that is considered to be the “target heart rate.” Your target heart rate will vary according to your age and level of fitness. A goal in aerobic fitness programs is to reach and maintain your target heart rate for a period of time that increases as you become more comfortable with the program.
Aerobic exercises not only increase the strength of your heart muscle, they also lower your blood pressure. A good fitness routine causes a drop in blood pressure that decreases the risk of heart attack or stroke. Over time, your resting heart rate actually decreases as your heart becomes more efficient. Some form of aerobic exercise should be completed each day in order to keep your heart in optimum health. Experts recommend at least twenty minutes of exercise per day for good cardiac health.
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