Exercise and Cardiovascular Health

Mar 26, 2021

A sedentary lifestyle is one of the 5 main risk factors for cardiovascular disease in the manner defined by AHA (along with high blood pressure, irregular blood lipid levels, smoking, and obesity).

Evidence from many scientific studies showed that reducing these risk factors reduces the risk of heart attack and reduces the possibility of coronary revascularization (by-pass operations or coronary angioplasty).


Regular exercise has a positive impact on many of the established cardiovascular disease risk factors.


                         Regular exercise


Exercise, for example, helps reduce weight and blood pressure. Exercise can reduce "bad" blood cholesterol (LDL level) as well as overall cholesterol levels and can increase the "good" level of cholesterol (HDL). Regular activity in diabetic patients positively affects the body's ability to use insulin to regulate blood glucose levels.


Although the impact of an exercise program on a single risk factor may generally be small, the impact of continued, moderate exercise in combination with other lifestyle adjustments (e.g. proper nutrition, smoking cessation, and medication) on overall cardiovascular risk could be dramatic.

Cardiovascular risk benefits of regular exercise

Increasing the exercise tolerances of body weight Reduction of blood pressure decrease in bad (LDLs) and total cholesterol Increase of good (HDL) cholesterol Increase of insulin sensitivity.


There are a number of physiological benefits of exercise;

As the ability to carry and use oxygen improves, regular daily activities can be carried out with less tiredness. This is especially important for patients whose exercise potential is usually less than that of healthy persons with cardiovascular diseases.


Exercise activity has also been shown to increase the dilating ability of the blood vessels in response to exercise or hormones, associated with increased artery wall function and enhanced muscle oxygen during exercise.


                           benefits of regular exercise


Muscle strength and endurance assessment tests prior to and after exercise programs suggest increases in bone health and daily work, as well as a lower chance of developing back pain and weakness, especially in older age groups. In this regard, the ASVCD risk calculator will help you determine your current heart situation.


Patients with newly diagnosed heart disease who are enrolled in a training program record faster return to function and changes to other quality of life metrics, such as greater confidence, reduced stress, and less anxiety.


Importantly, researchers have found that the death rate in cardiac attack patients who participated in a formal exercise program is reduced by 20 percent to 25 percent by combining controlled studies.


This is strong evidence for physical activity in heart disease patients. While it is clear that exercise programs for patients with heart disease alone have not convincingly shown an increase in the heart's pump capability or coronary artery diameter that delivers oxygen to the heart muscle.

How much exercise is sufficient?

The publication of the Surgeon General's study on physical activities and safety in 1996 provided a springboard to encourage physical activity by Americans for the largest government effort to date.


This historic turning point redefined the exercise as a key element in health promotion and disease prevention, and the government launched a multi-year educational campaign based on this report.


The Surgeon General's report, a CDC / ACSM consensus statement, and a National Health Institutes report agreed that the above benefits would generally come from a minimum of 30 minutes of modest activity on most days of the week, preferably all.


Modest activities are defined as any activity similar in intensity to rapid walking at a rate of approximately 3-4 miles an hour.


                             sports activities graph


These activities can include any other form of activity that is dynamic in nature and similarly intensive, such as cycling, garden work, and swimming. This exercise amount equates to about five to seven 30 minute sessions per week at an intensity of 3 to 6 METs (resting metabolic rate multiples*), or about 600 to 1200 calories per week.


It should be noted that in the reports mentioned above the phrase "30 minutes of accumulated activity..." is used. Repeated irregular or shorter periods of exercise (for example, 10 minutes) including industrial and leisure work or daily life have been shown to have comparable cardiovascular and other health benefits when carried out at moderate intensity rates with an average period of at least 30 minutes daily.


Those who already meet these requirements will benefit from more rigorous practices.


Many of the studies documenting the advantages of training typically use programs consisting of 30 to 60 minutes of continuous training for 3 days a week, with an intensity of 60% to 75% of the heart rate reserve of the individual.


However, it is generally not necessary for healthy adults to diligently measure the heart rate because significant health benefits can be achieved by modest levels of daily activity, regardless of the specific strength of exercise. In fact, researchers estimate that it is possible to reduce cardiovascular events by as much as 30 percent to 40 percent if most Americans simply fulfill government activity recommendations.


CDC / ACSM Consensus Statement and Surgeon General's Report Every American adult should participate in most and preferably all days of the week in 30 minutes or longer of moderate-intensity activity.

Moderate activities

Activities similar to walking at a speed of about three to four miles an hour; can include a large number of occupational and leisure activities including yard work, household activities, cycling, swimming, etc. Thirty minutes of moderate activity daily equates to between six hundred and one hundred calories per week.

Physical fitness and mortality

One does not have to be a marathon runner or an elite athlete, so physical activity can benefit significantly. In fact, the physical activity recommendations of the Surgeon General seem surprisingly modest.


One reason for this is that when an individual is sedentary and moderately active, the mortality gains are greatest. Studies show that less is gained when a person is moderately active to very active. In a study conducted by US veterans, subjects were divided into 5 categories by fitness level.


Between the lowest fitness group and the next lowest fitness group, the biggest death gains were made. In a six-year study, the researchers studied 213 men and compared death risks (after adjusting the age) with fitness gradients.


                                Healthy Lifestyle


The figure presents the relative risks of the different fitness categories (1 to 5, lowest to highest) measured. Healthy adults who are the least fit have 4.5 times the fittest mortality risk. Surprisingly, the fitness level of an individual was a greater death forecast than the identified risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.


This research and others stress that the level of fitness and daily activity has a strong effect on the occurrence of cardiac disease and overall mortality.

What are the fitness risks?

During exercise, the risk of heart-related complications (e.g. a heart attack or severe heart-rhythm disorder) is raised transiently. For patients with existing heart disease, an event may occur an average of once per 62 000 hours.


Significantly, the risk of heart disease among regular exercisers is significantly lower. Evidence shows that the risk of a sedentary person is almost 50 times higher than that of a person who exercises 5 times a week. Simply put, people who regularly practice are much less likely to experience a problem during exercise.


Therefore, exercise is considered extremely healthy. It is, however, a good idea to take care of the warning signs or symptoms that might suggest a problem: chest irritation (pain, or tension in the throat, chin, or neck, radiating probably into the head, arm or back), irregular breathing lack, dizziness or sunshine, and changes in the heart rhythm or heartbeats (heartbeat disturbances, pulsations, thumping). Medical attention should be sought immediately if one of these symptoms occurs

How do you start if you want to be physically active?

First, if you are currently suffering from heart disease or are over 45 years of age and have two or more risk factors. How do you continue if you want to be physically more active?


First, if you have cardiac illness or age 45 or older and have 2 or more risk factors (immediate family member with heart disease before 55, smoking, high levels of blood pressure, abnormal levels of cholesterol, diabetes, sedentary lifestyle, or obesity), you should consult your doctor before you start any kind of workout.


When you know that you absolutely cannot and will not spend half an hour in one day, try to do more research through the day by taking the steps than the lift, or try to walk instead of commuting a short distance from the shop.


Try to work in your schedule for several shorter periods of time, such as 10 minutes. The main thing is to get going. In the scientific literature, there is growing evidence that physical activity and fitness have a strong influence on a host of chronic diseases.


This is underscored by the new Surgeon General's study on physical activity and health. Reducing cardiac risk by greater physical activity can have a huge impact on health in the USA.