Cardiovascular health is defined as the health of your heart and blood vessels. Blood vessels are responsible for the transportation of the blood to (and from) the heart. As a result, it is crucial that they function properly. In order to perform well, these blood vessels need to be irrigated constantly, and kept unclogged. Physical activity (in addition to healthy eating) is one of the surest ways to maintain proper cardiovascular health.
Unfortunately, the lack of physical activity claims several hundred thousand lives every year in the United States alone, thru cardiovascular diseases. In contrast, studies have revealed that there is a direct correlation between the increase in physical activity, and the reduction in risk of hypertension, diabetes and high blood pressure. However, despite this evidence, the vast majority of American adults continue to lead sedentary lives, with very little inclusion of physical activity.
Benefits of physical activity
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), a sedentary lifestyle makes up the list of one of the key risk factors for cardiovascular disease. So it’s critically important that we incorporate physical activities (such as exercising) in our daily lives.
There are several health benefits to exercising on a regular basis (ideally 4 to 6 times per week). Exercising regularly contributes to weight reduction, and helps lower your blood pressure as well as your level of bad cholesterol (also called LDL cholesterol). As LDL cholesterol is lowered, HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) is boosted.
Besides the biological benefits of exercising listed above, there is also a plethora of physiological advantages to exercising. For example, when you boost your level of physical activity you will see an improvement in your muscle functions and an increased ability for your body to consume more oxygen. The more oxygen in your blood stream, the less likely your blood vessels are to clog up. Also, when your oxygen intake increases you feel less fatigued after performing simple daily physical tasks. This is particularly beneficial for those with cardiovascular diseases, whose exercise capacity is generally limited due to their lower level of oxygen.
There is also scientific evidence suggesting that exercising causes the blood vessels to dilate, allowing the blood to irrigate our major organs much more generously (contributing to major health benefits). As a result, patients diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, show a decrease in stress and anxiety level, following an exercise program over a period of time.
How to begin exercising?
To start with, answer these questions: are you currently over the age of 45 and do you have two or more of the following risk factors: (1) close family member with cardiovascular disease, (2) do you smoke cigarette daily (3) do you have high blood pressure (4) are your cholesterol levels abnormal (5) do you suffer from diabetes, (6) do you lead a sedentary lifestyle, (7) are you clinically obese. If you respond yes to a few of these questions, then you must consult with your physician before starting any exercise program.
If you do not belong to the category listed above, then you should set aside about 30 minutes daily (4 to 6 times a week) to exercise. You do not necessarily need a gym membership in order to work out. You can have a full-blown workout session right at home. However, if you know that you have a tendency to slack off on your exercising, then it’s best to either have a personal trainer, or a workout partner to motivate you.
If your days are absolutely jam-packed and you can’t find a half-hour slot to insert your workout session, then break it up in 2 or 3 sessions. For example, as soon as you wake up, do 10 minutes of jump rope. Then when you get back from work, perform some mountain climbers and squat jumps for instance for another 10 to 15 minutes, or run around the block. Some exercise is always better than no exercise.
Keep in mind that exercising doesn’t always have to be done at home or with a personal trainer. If you commute to work, you may decide to park several blocks from the office and walk from (and to) your car. Also, a time spent at the park on a Saturday afternoon can be turned into an afternoon of volleyball or soccer session, or even bike riding or rollerblading. Anything that can get your heart rate up is tremendously beneficial for your cardiovascular health.
As you can see, there is overwhelming evidence pointing to the benefits of exercising as it relates to cardiovascular health. Just as we take care of our homes and cars and other personal properties, we have the responsibility to take care of your body. And that includes engaging in regular physical activities, and eating healthy. So, get your body moving starting today.
About the author: Kodjo is a fitness enthusiast turned health blogger. When he is not tweeting or blogging about home workout, healthy eating, or dental implants (among other themes), he is likely eating healthy and working out at home. His wish is to contribute as much as possible, to the fight against obesity in America. He manages a health blog, helping people to exercise in the comfort of their home. Kodjo has more than a hundred thousand loyal Twitter Followers at @Kodjoworkout.