Adequate Heart Exercise Can Prevent Heart Attacks
Heart attacks can be prevented in many cases by practicing adequate heart exercise, cardiologists point out. Unfortunately, in the last decades, an increase of sedentary lifestyle has become best friend with other risks for cardiovascular disease such as high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, or high blood pressure.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death and it is projected to remain so. If this trend continues, by 2015 an estimated 20 million people will die from cardiovascular disease, mainly heart attacks and strokes, the WHO states.
Is too much comfort making us sick?
As I am sitting here in front of my computer, writing this article, a thought crossed my mind. Is the comfort we enjoy nowadays making us sick? I guess the answer is yes. Human species are designed for movement. In fact, in the past, we needed movement to survive. Hunting, fishing, etc., were activities necessary for that survival. But now, the way we live is making physical activity to disappear.
Our lifestyle is making us sick, and illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, etc, are quite common among the population. Unfortunately, this sedentary lifestyle is affecting all ages. Young people spend a lot of time in front of a computer or with the video games. Parents take children to school by car. And so on.
Are we listening to health authorities advise?
Physical inactivity is listed among the three major causes that trigger a heart attack or a stroke by the WHO, the other two being tobacco use and an unhealthy diet. We also know that people who live a sedentary life have more chances to suffer from other chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes type 2, arthritis, and osteoporosis. These health conditions not only contribute to cardiovascular disease but they also have a hand in contributing to lessen the quality of life of those people who suffer them.
However, in spite of all this information being available to us, we still find people who prefer to make excuses, such as being tired, not having enough time, or fear of injuries from exercise, to continue with a sedentary life. Could it be that people make those excuses because they have never experienced the pleasant sensations that an active life brings us, whether physical or psychological? In such case, the answer could possibly be to change our habits so we can live the adventures that a more active lifestyle rewards us with.
An active life should be encouraged when the person is very young since this is the best period to be trained in healthy habits. Emphasis should be made on regularity because it is the most important factor to obtain most benefits.
It is worth mentioning here that people who were active during their youth but then become sedentary, lose most of the benefits they acquired during that period of their life. One of the reasons why people in the Mediterranean countries have one of the lowest incidences of heart disease in the world is because they are active throughout their whole lives.
Having said that, research shows that the people who were physically active in previous parts of their lives but who at the present time conduct a more sedentary life, once they resume exercising, they obtain favorable effects faster than those who have always been inactive.
No need to suffer!
One of the main reasons why people are reluctant to start an exercise program is because they think that in order to obtain benefits, they have to suffer. However, when it comes to health benefits from exercise, moderate intensity produces the best results for general health and for the heart in particular.
Any type of exercise that can be done at a comfortable intensity, in a continuous way such as walking, biking, running, or swimming, and regularly, at least 3 to 5 times a week, will produce benefits for high blood pressure, high levels of cholesterol, losing fat, and high glucose levels.
Four easy exercise tips you can follow without hardship:
- Exercise regularly, at least 3 to 5 times a week.
- Exercises like walking, running, swimming, or biking, when performed at moderate intensity, are the most recommended.
- Improve your flexibility with gentle daily stretching exercises.
- Take care of your diet and hydration, especially if you exercise for more than 60 minutes.
Physical activity has to be adapted to the personal circumstances of each person. Some people feel they have to go to a gym in order to do some exercise, but there are many ways you can include physical activity in your life without going out of the way. You may be able to take the bus or the subway to work instead of taking the car. Instead of writing an email to your co-worker who is sitting in the next door office, you could walk to his or her desk, or you could take the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Your heart will be grateful.
We need to keep in mind that following a healthy diet is paramount for good health and to prevent heart problems, but unless we practice adequate heart exercise, we will not achieve the wanted results. Let us not forget that exercising our hearts can make the difference whether or not we suffer a heart attack.
To your heart health!
Emilia Klapp, R.D, B.S