Fight Heart Disease With Physical Activity

Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for acute coronary syndrome (ACS). Fortunately, you can take steps to help protect your heart—and one of the most important is exercise.

Health Monitor Staff
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We all know exercise is good for us, but why is it so good for fighting heart disease, like acute coronary syndrome (ACS)? Read on for a list of benefits you'll receive from some physical activity.

  • Lower blood pressure. If your blood pressure stays high, over time it can lead to coronary artery disease or heart failure.
  • Lower triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are a type of fat in your blood. High triglycerides increase your risk of coronary artery disease.
  • Higher HDL ("good") cholesterol levels. Research shows that HDL can protect against the buildup of plaque in your arteries.
  • Reduced risk for type 2 diabetes. Exercise improves your body's ability to manage blood sugar. Having diabetes makes you twice as likely to develop coronary artery disease.
  • Weight loss. Excess weight raises your blood pressure, as well as your LDL ("bad") cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It also can make you more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

A number of common activities and exercises can help your heart work more efficiently and reduce your risk of heart disease. Here are some examples:

  • Aerobics
  • Biking
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Jumping rope
  • Rowing
  • Running or jogging
  • Swimming
  • Team sports, such as basketball and soccer
  • Tennis

If starting up a new workout routine seems overwhelming or a little scary, keep in mind that exercise doesn't have to be rigorous to help protect your heart. Many lower-intensity activities have long-term health benefits, including brisk walking, dancing, yard work and climbing stairs.

Experts recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. Remember, safety comes first. If you're middle-aged or older, it's important to consult your doctor before you begin any exercise program especially if you already have a heart condition.

October 2010